Discipline Is Beautiful
Being disciplined to work out your plan is the absolute key to major gift success. Conversely, it’s the downfall of many major gift fundraisers.
At Veritus, we know that introducing a disciplined approach to major gifts will lead to deeper relationships with donors, higher retention rates, lower value attrition rates and much more revenue. It’s an absolute fact.
So, why doesn’t it always work? Why doesn’t every major gift fundraiser and every nonprofit adopt this approach?
Because it takes hard work. It’s not easy.
We are human, and, unless we have the will to stay focused and work a plan and allow someone to hold us accountable, we stumble and get off track. It doesn’t matter that you have great donors or incredible plans, touch-points and offers—if you don’t execute them and stay with it, you won’t succeed.
I know this personally.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve been trying to take care of my health through diet and exercise. I did all my research. I got inspired. I joined a gym and purchased all the necessary stuff I needed to work out. I got great nutrition advice ... I was set.
But, here is the thing: I didn’t commit to it. I went maybe two to three times a week to the pool (sometimes less). I ate well during the week (sort of) then blew it all up on the weekends. I felt a little better after a year or so, but I wasn’t fully committed to it. I didn’t have the discipline to spend six days a week working out or eat more healthily every day.
But one day I said to myself, “Jeff, if you want to live well into your 80s and live a vibrant life, then you have to make a real commitment to it.” This thought came to me after a weekend of eating too much and feeling like crap.
And so, I did two things: 1) I made myself commit to working out six days a week for at least 30 days and eat healthy (I heard that if you commit to something for 30 days it will become a habit), and 2) I had someone hold me accountable to do it ... someone that had the permission to tell me to “get on it” if I wanted to slack off.
That was six months ago. Today, it’s now become part of my life. I don’t even think about not working out or watching my nutrition. It’s paid off in so many ways I cannot begin to tell you.
This is the same approach that you, as a major gift fundraiser, will have to take with your work every day. It is not easy. You have to commit to it. You have to force yourself at times to make those calls and connect with donors. You have to will yourself to do your research on donors, to write those thank-you notes every day and to go out and put yourself out there in front of donors. You have to be able to say, “No,” to helping with an event—even though it sounds fun—so you can follow-up with the five donors that you can’t seem to get a hold of.
You have to keep your meetings with your boss and make sure you are updating leadership on your progress when it would be easier to let those meetings slide. You have to meet with program folks and put yourself into the need your organization addresses, when it would be easier to have lunch with your colleagues.
If you can do this every day, if you can stay focused on your plan and allow your boss or someone to hold you accountable, Richard and I know for a fact you will be successful.
You have what it takes. You have the abilities and skills. Act on them day in and day out and it will become second nature to you ... and you will soar!
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.