4 Unconventional Ways to be a Successful Major-Gifts Fundraiser
Major-gifts fundraising is tough, tough work. It's a profession that has tremendous awards and incredible stress. I've known many professional major-gifts fundraisers who didn't last long in our business. They burned out. It's demanding, it takes a ton of energy and there's a lot of rejection built into the job.
So, what does it take to be a great major-gifts fundraiser?
Well, there are a lot of qualities like being curious, smart, aggressive, persistent, patient and relational. All these qualities are necessary to be successful — you can't do without them.
But today, I want to talk about four additional things you can do every day to help you be great at this work. These are four things I've learned over the years that help me tremendously, but I'm going to be totally honest with you … I fail at it a lot.
However, when I'm working on all four of these things every day, I feel better, I'm more centered and I'm ready to take on the day.
- Exercise. Yes, going out and moving around every day. Whether it's walking, riding your bike or swimming (my favorite), take 30 minutes in the morning and move. Make it a routine — same time of day and try to do it every day. I know it's hard. Sometimes you're on the road and it's really tough, but try to do it. I know when I'm not exercising I just don't feel right. Plus, we all know our job can be pretty sedentary for a large portion of the day. That's why we have to get out and move.
- Pray/meditate. Don't worry, I'm not getting religious on you. Although if you are a person of faith, that's fine. What I am talking about here is being grounded, being clear in your head, relaxing and being thankful for all you have. Doing this every day puts you in the right place to handle all that is going to come at you that day. Again, when I don't do this, I feel off all day.
- Be grateful. Try and take 10 minutes each day and think about all the people and situations in your life that you are grateful for … even for all the people you don't like. Seriously, just think about them, say their name. Being grateful gives us perspective. It's slows you down and it helps goodness toward others flow out of you.
- Be creative. Now, I know in your work you have to be creative every day to handle different people, come up with strategies and tactics. But I'm talking about taking a small amount of time each day to write down your ideas. Try it. It's actually been an amazing experience for me to write down all the ideas that come out of me everyday. You might have 1,000 ideas before one of them is actually good, but the process of writing them down is a great exercise. I have this little moleskin notebook that I try and write in everyday. Sometimes I find it really tough, and other times ideas are flowing out of me like a raging river. It's actually been a good way for me to come up with blog ideas!
Now, I know what your thinking. "I can't do this stuff everyday. Who has the time?" I get it. However, you owe it to you to take care of yourself.
If you like baseball, tennis, golf, Gregorian chant, jazz, rock, good wine and deep conversation, then you’ll like to hang out with Jeff.
If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.