Successful Fundraisers Choose to Be Problem Solvers
The successful fundraisers that I know don't dwell on problems and negativity; they fix challenges and move on. They are positive!
As I think on my great fundraising mentors — they are like my mom — I never heard a negative word from them about anyone.
You don't hear fundraising stars complaining about colleagues or donors. They embrace relationships and realize that we all bring different talents and perspectives. They are positive, goal-driven, solution finders. You don't shine your image by tarnishing someone else's.
Positive fundraising professionals don't constantly say, "I didn't know," and they don't just sit there and watch a situation going bad — they step in and fix it. As team players, they are attuned to the dynamics and status of projects. You won't hear them sharing that a donor or teammate is in a bad mood or complain about the "tone" of an email. They choose to take the positive interpretation of a situation and stay positive among the inevitable setbacks and disappointments of life. They overlook the small stuff.
Yes, they are realists. But when we get into the blame game and finger-pointing, it is often to deflect our own similar shortcomings.
It takes work, so make a commitment to stay positive. Part of this is the leadership to avoid missteps so you don't get bogged down and in the ditch where too often throwing a little mud is tempting. Look to the habit of positive behaviors including:
- Keep everyone apprised of the status of a project.
- Realize that a team owns the project and works together for success.
- Don't be easily offended by the tone of an email or encounter — don't read things in to a situation that probably are not there.
- Focus on your priorities, and set and meet deadlines and goals.
- Look out at the horizon to anticipate challenges and opportunities — look out a week, a month and a year.
- Anticipate needs of your colleagues and donors.
- Encourage and mentor others.
- Regularly show genuine appreciation.
- Own up to your own shortcomings, and work to overcome them or find a role where they are not a detriment.
- Take time to be sure that communication and expectations are clear.
- Ask lots of questions.
- Be relationship-driven.
- Think twice before sharing information about small encounters or things entrusted to you in confidence.
- Realize that everyone has importance, needs and faces challenges that you are not aware of.
- Let the team know if you are not able to handle a project and if you are not in the right role.
- Regularly work to enhance your skills.
- Make going the extra mile a habit.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Focus on solutions, not the problem and who to blame.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.