Everyone who knows hockey knows Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One,” as he came to be called, dominated the National Hockey League (NHL) for two decades. People said he had a “sixth sense” or “eyes in the back of his head” when it came to hockey. Many of his feats, including most goals scored, still stand as NHL records. He is the leading scorer in NHL history, has completed the most assists, and still holds sixty NHL records. He is the most successful hockey player of all time.
Ask Gretzky the reason for his success, and he’ll respond simply yet profoundly, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”1
While onlookers credited his success to an intuitive ability to play hockey, Gretzky knew there was more involved than simple intuition. From age three to seventeen, his father drilled him on how to anticipate where the puck would be. In Gretzky: An Autobiography, Gretzky recounts how his dad would tell him, “This is how everybody else does it.” He would shoot the puck into the corner of the rink, and then chase after it as it bounced off the wall and across the ice. Next his dad would say, “And this is how a smart player does it.” He would then hit the puck to the corner of the rink just as before, but this time instead of chasing after it, he would cut across the rink to be ready to meet the puck as it came to him. From this exercise, Gretzky learned to skate to where the puck was going, not where it had been.2
What do Wayne Gretzky and hockey have to do with fundraising? The same strategy that propelled Gretzky to success will help your nonprofit. Too many ministries and nonprofit organizations are waking up to find they have been skating to where the puck, or their donors, used to be. Nonprofit organizations spend their time chasing after where their donors were before, and then they wonder why their fundraising methods don’t work. They spend more money on development programs, hire new directors, fire directors who don’t produce, and repeat the cycle—all the while hoping to get different results.
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