Being good at anything boils down to the habits you instill in yourself and those around you, and fundraising is no exception. There is a long list of proactive and healthy habits of course, but with some advice from Pamela Barden, an accomplished nonprofit leader, we can narrow the range to six distinct habits.
In the world of fundraising, it can be devastating to break a cardinal rule–accidentally or otherwise. However, these rules are not always hard and fast, and thus it is important to continually question them. Sticking with tried and true methods is paramount when building up a nonprofit, but looking for fresh, new ideas and breakthroughs is just as important, if not more. For example, the advent of social media empowered many forward-thinking organizations to leap ahead of the competition.
- Appreciation of People
People are the core of any successful fundraising effort and the nonprofit organization itself. , Appreciating the staff, the donors, and other supporters will keep you successful. Even further, remember to appreciate those who don’t or can’t contribute. In fact there are multiple ways people can support an organization – its not just about money – for instance, an advocate of your nonprofit who doesn’t have the means to support you may have a wealthy friend or relative that can or maybe they can rally the forces for a 10k walk or other volunteer opportunity. It’s never too late to change someone’s mind or to get them involved!
- Ability to Apply Information
“There is a lot of information available to fundraisers, nonprofit leadership, board members and everyone else who is curious enough to seek it out,” writes Pamela Barden. “To make that information more than just white noise, an excellent fundraiser needs to look for patterns [ . . . ] Simply reading (or scanning) a lot of articles isn’t helpful. Each of us needs to ask, ‘What — if anything — should I do/say/think differently because of this information?’ ”
- Passion to Learn
Number one reminds us to be curious, but curiosity is ineffective without the willingness and drive to learn the things that curiosity leads us to ferret out. Being an expert in something can be daunting, but expertise isn’t always necessary! Sometimes a cursory knowledge of fundraising tools is enough to help you along the road to success. At the end of the day, if you’re passionate about fundraising and motivated to learn you will excel and most likely flourish.
- Willingness to Submerge Your Own Feelings
Sometimes what we want isn’t what we (or our fundraising goals) need. The ability to put personal opinion aside in order to reach that final donor or to start that complex campaign is invaluable. “If excellence is your goal, not making every decision all about you is a requirement.” This really comes into play when we try to influence an appeal letter or the package design with our own “opinions” about a word, picture or color. We need to accept the fact we may not be the target audience and just because “we don’t like” something doesn’t mean it’s a valid reason.
- Commitment to the Highest Ethics
To follow up the last point, take care not to let your drive to be successful cause you to make any questionable decisions! Always strive to do what is best by your donors and benefactors including being transparent and open with every communication and demonstrating the highest respect possible for the donor and her intent
As Aristotle says, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Let’s make our fundraising (and ourselves) excellent!