Observations From the Bottom of the Pool
Regular readers of this column have heard me mention swimming from time to time. That's the one exercise I enjoy, so I try to get to the pool three times a week and swim for an hour.
It is great exercise and it's renewing for me, but truth be told — it's boring. Looking at the bottom of a pool over and over and over again isn't the scintillating stuff good columns are made of.
Maybe that's how you feel about your fundraising job. Back when you started, you were excited. But now you can't figure out how to say — for the 10,000th time — "We need money to do our good work so please give." But as I contemplated the bottom of the pool recently, I started to see a comparison to my swimming and keeping the joy of fundraising alive.
I always get into the pool knowing how many laps I'm going to swim. When my shoulder is aching or my legs are tired of kicking, I keep going — because I hate to not achieve my goal! Think about goals beyond what is in your annual budget on your last performance review. Then set some personal goals that are all about beating "you." Last year, your year-end appeal did X; this year, determine to go for more responses, a higher average gift or some other metric. Then figure out all the ways you might be able to make that happen. Same on your e-newsletter. Can you improve your open rate by having a more enticing subject line? Work on beating your own personal best.
When I swim, I wear a lap counter and meticulously monitor my progress. I even figure out from time to time how close I am to my goal. It's easier to stick with it when you see the finish line — albeit way in the distance sometimes. As a fundraiser, knowing your results also means knowing what is and isn't working.