6 Habits of Fundraising Excellence
As a lifelong learner as well as a fundraising instructor at two universities, I am a huge proponent of formal education in fundraising. After all, in whatever career we choose, being the very best we can possibly be is a worthy goal. But some things just can't be taught, no matter which textbook you read or how experienced the teacher is.
That's because knowledge matters in fundraising, but that's not all. What each of us brings to the job matters, and I am convinced that a daily commitment to these six habits is critical to be excellent fundraisers.
What will happen if … ? What if this changes? What does that mean? Fundraising has some "rules" — things that have been proved over and over — and we violate them only after careful thought. But there are many areas of fundraising that we ought to test. We must be willing to try something new. Fundraising breakthroughs aren't everyday occurrences, but they happen when we ask questions and figure out a way to find the answers (without sinking the ship, so to speak). Those breakthroughs may not be huge for the entire industry, but even small breakthroughs that make your own efforts more fruitful are important.
Curiosity also extends to a desire to learn more. What's multivariant testing? What's a CRT? What do I need to know to build a major donor program? "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." —Albert Einstein
Appreciation of people
As noted above, fundraising has some rules — but at the core of fundraising are people. People choose to donate for reasons that are often entirely personal to them. You can send them beautifully written appeals and show them highly compelling photos (and you should). But you can't force an individual to give or to give to the project you are describing.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.