Yes, I know it's not a "new year" to everyone. But a substantial majority of FundraisingCoach.com's readers ended their fiscal year last week. So in that spirit, here are three New Year Resolutions to help you make the next 12 months more productive and fulfilling.
Resolve to say "thank you" more often
We humans love hearing the words "thank you." Try it. You'll often see people stand a little taller. Smiles creep across their faces. A sense of peace come over them.
To get you started, I did a quick thank you to fundraisers video last week. In fact, you might want to play with video. A year ago, my friend Jon Swanson sent me a quick video thanking me. It is one of the most thoughtful things I've seen. (He used a Flip and posted it privately so only a person with the link could view it.)
Resolve to stay educated
Fundraising professionals should be up-to-date with the best research to help fund their causes. In a recent post, Tom Ahern ponders why so many fundraisers aren't trusted by their bosses or boards. After all, a hospital CEO wouldn't tell the clinical director of a medical unit how to do the technical aspects of her job. Why is it that fundraisers aren't held in that same regard?
One reason is we're so busy with the process of raising funds, that we're not taking time to keep up with the research and the literature. Stephen Covey calls that "sharpening the saw." We need to periodically take time to sharpen the saw. When we do, we find our work getting done much more quickly and with less effort.
I recently heard Simone Joyaux tell board members to be asking fundraisers what they're reading. As a professional, each fundraiser should have an answer. What would yours be?
- What blogs do you check in to?
- What emails are you signed up for? Enewsletters? Movie Mondays?
- What fundraising and marketing books have you assigned for yourself this year?
- Are you reading the Chronicle of Philanthropy?
This isn't meant to overwhelm you. This is for your benefit. That way, when you say, "We need to have a PS on this fundraising letter" and your board or ED says "no." You can cite articles, eye-motion studies, and research that says, yes you need a PS. That the PS is the most important part of your fundraising letter. Being able to show them the statistics helps show them that you are the professional. And it will raise more money for your cause.
Last month, I wrote an article on ideas for ongoing education for fundraising teams. Feel free to start there.
Resolve to ask more
Asking is the reason people give. So ask more often. Ask more creatively. Ask different people.
Studies consistently show that if you mail the same letter to the same group of people multiple times, you will get more gifts than if you simply mail it once. Why not experiment with a fundraising letter a month? Just test it. Or commit to asking every donor, "Who else should we be involving?" Or having your board members host cocktail parties.
What if you committed to doing something you didn't like at least once a week? Don't like the phone? Try it each week. (Here are some phone calling tips to help you.) Don't like handwriting appeals? Schedule some weekly time to do it.
Whatever you do, resolve to asking more.
Those are three resolutions I recommend. Even if this isn't a new fiscal year for you, it's ok to make resolutions mid-year. 🙂