A few weeks ago my routine blood test came back with a really scary number. And that’ll be important to your fundraising success. It’ll be worth wading through the story.
My doctor’s great. She collaborates with me on my constant tinkering with my health and fitness. She runs a full blood test on me a couple of times of year to see if I’m on track.
She emailed me my most recent test results with a note that said she wanted to discuss the results. I popped open the results and scanned down through the numbers. The lab provides a helpful range for each test result showing the acceptable “highs” and “lows.”
One number was out of the acceptable range.
It was high. The “High range” was a hundred.
Mine was 936. Gulp. 9 times above the “high end” of things.
What did that mean?
Naturally, I googled.
The Google said: “Symptom of liver failure.”
I googled and added my 936 marker to the search string.
The Google said: “Symptoms of profound liver failure.”
I googled: “Liver failure”.
The google told me a whole bunch of really scary symptoms, results and then toward the bottom of page provided some “helpful” information about liver transplants. (It was NOT helpful in all candor).
I emailed with my doc to schedule an emergency liver examination.
She emailed back and let me know that she wanted to discuss it before I went too far down the liver-failure highway. And she mentioned that she wouldn’t be doing the emergency liver examination that I requested. She’s great.
When I got in to see her I was calmer but pretty sure my liver was a goner.
I’m always tinkering with my eating, training and supplements. So she began by reviewing what I was taking and doing. I handed over my current spreadsheet. We talked about it a bit.
She asked some more generic “doctor questions” and eventually said something like, “I really don’t think you have a liver problem.”
I actually sputtered. “But… this marker, 936, is a symptom of liver failure. PROFOUND liver failure.” I even said “profound” in all caps.
Thankfully, she knows me and didn’t get worked up.
“Yes,” she said. “That marker can be a symptom of liver failure. But these 4 markers are perfect.” She said that tapping on the lines above the “liver failure marker.”
She went on, “It’s hard to imagine that this marker could be that high and these markers in the perfect range. I think for some reason that part of the test was inaccurate.” Huh.
You’re way ahead of me, aren’t you?
Sure enough, we re-ran that portion of the blood test. And the numbers were beautiful. Everything where it’s supposed to be. My liver is awesome.
Turns out my doctor is the expert. And while I’m aware of my body and a dedicated experimenter. I don’t actually have as much expertise as I thought. Turns out there’s a term for confusing expertise and opinions. Check out the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Our fundraising lesson is about expertise. Who are you going to listen to about your fundraising?
You may know your donors. You know your cause and the work you do. But that might not make you as much of an expert as you’re tempted to think.
And be cautious about who you listen to about your fundraising.
Odds are the great people on your Board aren’t fundraising experts.
Your seasoned administrator probably isn’t either.
The donor who’s launching a start-up isn’t either.
Everyone will have opinions about what you should say and do (and what you shouldn’t say and do) in your fundraising. Everyone you talk to might be a consumer of marketing, advertising and fundraising. But that’s not the same thing as expertise.
Experts have breadth and depth. Think about it as knowledge and experience. They have knowledge. They’ve studied and learned. They’ve taken the time to master their field.
And they’ve had the opportunity to work in multiple situations and circumstances. They’ve seen a wide range of situations. It’s not their first rodeo.
Without knowledge and experience, you’re just getting an opinion.
Don’t pay the price of getting just an opinion. Take it from my beautifully healthy liver, you want an expert and an expert’s judgement.
I’d love to know what you think. What do you think about my markers of a true expert? Let me know. You can reach me at sthomas AT Oneicity DOT com.
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And note: it isn’t my intention to make light of serious health issues, in particular liver failure. Liver failure was what finally got my Dad, it’s serious to me. I am making fun of my hypochondriac tendencies and using that to illustrate willingness to let non-experts influence crucial matters in our lives. Thanks for your understanding.