“Pure potential.” That’s how a friend — an expert in craniosacral therapy — describes acorns.

She recently explained to me, “In Traditional Chinese Medicine spring is symbolized by an acorn and the energy it takes to germinate and sprout.” She handed me an acorn from her desk. “This could become an oak tree. Really. Look at it. It’s pure potential.”

As a fundraiser, I couldn’t help think about midlevel donors. (Get a life, Alia, right?) But it’s true. Midlevel donors are like those acorns — they have the potential to turn into oaks with the right energy and care.

Same week. Different day.

I’m chatting with Lori Hutson, a close colleague who leads the midlevel program at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). She says, “We’re focusing our investment and efforts on turning transactional midlevel donors who joined our program after Roe v. Wade was overturned into transformational donors — donors who will stay with us for the long-term, donors who show intensity and commitment to the cause.”

Lori gets it. She knows she’s sitting on a pile of acorns, donors who have pure potential to send their shoots upwards if the causes and conditions are right. And she’s leading her team — and the organization — by investing in those causes and conditions.

Next time you see an acorn, maybe you’ll see the potential. Or maybe you’ll just walk on by and forget that one day it could be an Oak.


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