Cast Your Line to Motivate & Improve Your Catch
by Amy Etheridge

As the calendar year draws to its conclusion, development officers need to be inspired to close those year-end solicitations. A manager's role, in part, is to coax, cajole, motivate and yes, inspire.


Taking a line from a seemingly unlikely source, the Pike Place Fish Company in Seattle, the fish mongers believe they can make a difference right where they are - flying fish and all. The employees do more than just show up; they bring their hearts, minds and hands to create a great experience for their customers.

In the book Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results+, the authors relate what they saw at the market with these four points:

  1. Be there. Be present and engage your staff and colleagues, and mean it.
  2. Play. Nurture an environment where trust and respect replace fear and retribution, and pave the way for fun and creativity.
  3. Make their day. Remember to show your staff and colleagues that you value them.
  4. Choose your attitude. Every day before you arrive to your job, you have a choice about attitude. Never underestimate the impact a positive one can have on those around you.

This paradigm may sound familiar because it is. These very ideas are similar to what we know about stewardship of our donors, alumni and volunteers. Now is a great time to employ these points with your development staff. With energized and valued employees who believe in the institute's mission, you'll have a better chance of catching that illusive big fish!

+Lundin, Stephen C. PhD, Harry Paul and John Christensen, Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. New York: Hyperion, 2000.

Amy Etheridge is president of Giving Leadership Opportunity (GLO), a professional resource for personal, customized nonprofit and business consulting services. GLO is committed to creating growth opportunities for organizations as they seek to achieve their missions and fulfill their community promise. Amy may be reached at or 919.521.5776.

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