The premise of this series was finding a new normal.
Does any of this feel normal yet?
The supply chain challenges we discussed in July are now in full bloom. We continue to get the education on the Greek alphabet that I'd avoided in college. And column inches have stretched into miles in the rumble between the Must Return to the Office Sharks and the Comfy Pants Forever Jets.
What if I told you there was a way to hit the reset button?
There is (psychologically at least). It's called the fresh start effect.
Researchers have found and replicated that landmark dates are psychologically significant and give people distance from themselves before the date. These significant dates can be calendar-based — new year, month or week — or personal — birthdays, holidays, moving, etc.
This distance gives people the personal permission to change. And Jan. 1 is the prime date of landmark dates. So while it's a cliché that everyone breaks their New Year's resolutions, it's actually the time that you are most able to break your past patterns and become the new you.
And these patterns can happen for good or ill. Monday is the day you are most likely to start going to the gym; it's also when you are most likely to "take a day off" after a strong week. A fun example of this is when baseball players are traded: When players were below average, a trade was related to a 4% increase in batting averages; above-average players came down to earth with a 5% decrease.
So as we approach the new year, it's a great time to decide who the new you is going to be. Granted, this won't be in any legally binding sense: If you try to convince a judge that the Kris who got arrested for peeing in a public fountain was 2021-Kris and you shouldn't be judged by that Kris' actions, you are on your own (but do send updates!) However, setting goals and achievements for measurement can help you be who you wish to be.
This also has implications for your fundraising. Your donors are going through this same self-assessment and those are perhaps most pliable in their giving habits. Certain asks — membership, recurring donations, planned giving — work best when someone is looking at their year, month, week or life with a blank slate, as does new acquisition. You can even reference this in your asking, priming the donor to be more accepting of something new because they are a new person.
Likewise, it's a time to lock in the donors who are already as you wish them to be. If someone is a monthly donor who makes additional donations to urgent appeals, you should worry about them like an above-average ballplayer changing teams. Now's the time to reinforce who they are and why they give. After all, people are more likely to give when reflecting on past times they've given.
It's also an opportunity to be the organization you want to be. Want to start a promising channel like connected TV? Now's the time when budgets and minds are going to be at their most flexible. And it's a great opportunity to create that "stop doing" list of things you and your team can benefit from leaving safely in your rearview mirror.
So, in short, it's a great time to lock in what you love and amend what you abhor for yourself, your donors and your organization.
Editor's Note: This is the sixth part of the six-part series, Getting Forward to Normal.
Getting Forward to Normal
Part 1: What Ketchup Packets, Yeast and Nonprofit Mail Pieces Have in Common
Part 2: The Road Ahead for Museums and Cultural Institutions
Part 3: A Bump in the Road for Monthly Giving
Part 4: The Need for Digital Infrastructure
Part 5: Understanding What Business Nonprofits Are In
Part 6: The 2022 Fresh Start Effect
Nick Ellinger joined the Moore, where he works to increase the automation and customization of fundraising as chief brand officer, in January 2020. Before that, he was DonorVoice’s vice president of marketing strategy, working with organizations like Catholic Relief Services, Share our Strength | No Kid Hungry, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation to look at their fundraising with a different lens. He developed his direct fundraising muscle running Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s direct marketing program for a decade. He’s also the author of "The New Nonprofit" to challenge fundraising norms.