The No. 1 Habit of Successful Fundraisers
Last week, we celebrated my daughter Abbey’s 24th birthday. Her grandfather called her “Boobaloo.” My grandmother referred to her as “Snickerfritz.” And her dad calls her “Abs-a-Dabs-a-Doo.”
But whatever the moniker, she is a gem. At age 18, Abbey enrolled in the U.S. Marine Corps (triggering every mother’s deepest, darkest fears). But my loyal readers were right there by my side, with reassurance and encouragement. Abbey made it out, better and stronger than ever.
Next month, Abbey graduates from Drexel University. To date, she’s been accepted to Villanova University School of Law and Temple University Beasley School of Law. She’s made it through college while juggling three jobs, as well as volunteer work. She recently signed on to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate mentor.
Here’s the thing about Abbey: She has a strong sense of self. Lately, recognizing that she’ll need to ramp it up even more for law school, she’s started picking up self-improvement books.
She started with “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Stephen Covey’s classic covers the importance of prioritizing the activities that are important, but not urgent in lieu of more urgent (and less important) tasks. As my coach might say, “Are you working in your business or on it?” In our work, what it comes down to is this: Are you putting out fires or are you working on growing relationships? Be honest with yourself about that one. It’ll only help you see where you are (and maybe where you need to be).
Abbey’s smart in more ways than one. She knows the importance of daily habits.
Make your daily habit gratitude. In another great read on Abbey’s list, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It,” Kelly McGonigal explains that we should think not in terms of progress, but in terms of commitment.
“When people who have taken a positive step toward meeting a goal (for example, exercising, studying or saving money) are asked, ‘How much progress do you feel you have made on your goal?’ they are more likely to then do something that conflicts with that goal, like skip the gym the next day, hang out with friends instead of studying or buy something expensive. In contrast, people who are asked, “How committed do you feel to your goal?” are not tempted by the conflicting behavior. A simple shift in focus leads to a very different interpretation of their own actions—‘I did that because I wanted to,’ not ‘I did that. Great. Now I can do what I really want!’”
You’re committed to your mission, but are you committed to funding your mission? There’s a critical difference, you know. McGonigal advises us to use a daily rule to help us end the debate that so often dissuades us from moving in the right direction. Is there a daily rule that you can live with that will bring you closer to your fundraising goals? One rule that I have encouraged for years (we’re talking since 2006, people) is to commit to a daily gratitude habit. Every morning (before you check your email or voicemail, but not before you’ve had your coffee), make it a habit out of spending 15 minutes to 30 minutes to call your donors. Why?
Just to say thank you. For years, we’ve heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit for the long haul. But in reality, it turns out that’s a bit of a myth. I say, commit to these daily calls, come hell or high water, for three months straight. Jot it down on your calendar and begin tomorrow—no ifs, ands or buts about it. And then, reach out. I want to hear from you.
What habits are you embracing to ramp up your fundraising this year? These little things can inspire some huge results. Don’t underestimate them. Earlier this year, we featured a filled-to-capacity GoToWebinar training that you may have missed out on. If you’d like to catch it now, you still can. You’ll get an overview of where philanthropic dollars really come from, so you can better plan your year, and you’ll discover the habits of my most successful students! Click here to watch.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.