It seems every industry has its awards – the Oscars, the Grammys, the Pulitzer Prize, the Heisman Trophy, even the ECHO award from the Direct Marketing Association. Over the next several weeks, there will be many major TV productions celebrating the “best” of 2017, and careers will be made or broken based on these presentations. Yet there is one award that every fundraiser should strive for – and hope to win every single day.

That is the “award” of being chosen by a donor to receive his or her donation. Whether it is $10 or $1 million, it was a choice a donor made, often because of something you did or said.

Here are some ways to be a true “award winner” when it comes to fundraising:

  1. Do what you love. People who win awards are passionate; they practice longer, work harder, study more intently, and do all they can to be the best. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it is just drudgery. If you are working as a fundraiser for a cause you truly believe in, it’s going to be less work and more fun, less stress and more satisfaction.
  2. Believe you are worthy. Don’t apologize for being small. The nonprofit that continually presents itself as having “one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel” sends the wrong message. This doesn’t mean you lie about your accomplishments, but you proudly tout what you have accomplished.
  3. Invest in showing off your best attributes. You may have a small budget, but value your organization enough to invest in professional photography, writing and other “public facing” components so your donors can see for themselves what they are making possible with their gifts. Your goal in every fundraising activity is to make your donors proud to be part of the organization, not embarrassed, so package your story in a way that is welcoming and exciting.
  4. Be creative (but only creative enough to appeal to your audience). Doing something because it makes you feel good isn’t going to win you the support of your donors, but neither is being boring. Your job is to make people feel good about donating to your organization. Don’t let creativity swallow up the message; find balance so the donor connects with the story in your fundraising.

Here’s to a winning year of fundraising!