Is the beginning of the year seeming especially long to you?
ARE YOU SO BUSY YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Maybe you should do like DMX says, and stop, drop and shut em down open up shop!
So maybe you’re not going to ride a four-wheeler up a set of stairs.
BUT! You can stop. And ask yourself. Where are you at right now?
In one of my fundraising roles, I worked with a domestic violence nonprofit. Our boss was constantly firing people. She fired 32 people in a 20 person agency over the 2 years that I was there. As the office staff, we were frustrated and anxious all the time, about the injustice we saw, and how we feared we were next on the chopping block. Because it was a domestic violence organization, we also had to deal with residual trauma from survivors, and many of us had to deal with our OWN trauma that came up in the course of an unsafe and abusive working environment.
In our nonprofits, we tend to relive the same stories over and over again.
My colleagues and I took a lot of time to process what was happening, because it was so traumatizing. And we relived these same stories over and over again.
But this doesn’t just happen with bosses. It can happen with us, and with our leaders, as we relive the same stories, the same message. Does this sound familiar?
“We just don’t have enough money.”
“We just don’t have enough time.”
“We just can’t invest in a database.”
“We just can’t afford to invest in a consultant.”
When we relive the same stories over and over again, we get the same results we’ve always gotten.
It gets exhausting. It makes people want to leave the sector. It makes us feel like nothing will ever change.
Today, I invite you to consider stopping before you open up shop for the year. Ho! That’s how Ruff Ryders roll!
Ask yourself, are you really busy? Or are you focused and clear? Consider being in the moment versus being BUSY. How could you work on the top 3 most important things for the month today? Do you regularly set weekly goals or intentions?
My intention this week is RECONNECTION. I am emailing and writing thank you notes and having phone calls with people I’ve worked with in the last year to reconnect with them. You can also steal this word from me, and take this theme for the whole month, if you like, to reconnect with donors who gave last year, and say thank you. You should have a nice fresh batch of donors from your year end giving campaign to reconnect with.
STOP! Pause and be honest with yourself for a moment. What are the hard problems?
Is it that there’s “no money” for a donor database? Is it that you “can’t afford” to hire a consultant or fundraiser? Is it that you have no stewardship plan and you lose 50 to 100 donors every year?
Are these the SAME problems you’ve had for the last year? The last two years? The last five years running?
Instead of complaining about them, see them as the real projects and priorities you have to work on.
Say, our goal this quarter is to get a donor database. Our goal for Q2 is to raise enough from the board to hire a fundraising consultant, so we can start getting the results we need this year to hire a full time fundraising person next year.
Confront these stories head on, instead of seeing them as thorns in your side that you will never break free from.
When we avoid tackling the hard problems, they don’t go away. They just SIT THERE. Festering. Waiting for us to notice them again.
Wouldn’t it be nice to solve one of your big problems this year, once and for all?
For instance, ramping up your monthly giving program or major gifts program. Create a fundraising and communications plan for the year. Making sure there are metrics included in this plan. Why would you do it?
As Ellen Bristol, author of Fundraising the SMART Way, says, “Gee whiz I’m not sure what I did but I sure am tired!”
What she means is, if you don’t include MEANINGFUL measurements and metrics, you’re going to find that you’ll be tired at the end of the week, but you’re not sure exactly what you got done. Maybe you answered a bunch of phone calls. Did that lead you closer to a major gift? Who’s tracking the major gift opportunity stages, anyway? If you want to learn more about major gift opportunity stages, check out Ellen’s website.
Start this year off right, and make sure you think bigger about those old problems. You can focus on them and make progress. Remember, if you ask for help, and if you give yourself enough time to take small steps, you can move towards solving them!
I want to thank Vanessa Chase Lockshin, principal of The Storytelling Nonprofit, for the idea for this post. If you want more from her on this topic, Vanessa Chase Lockshin has created an obstacles vs goal setting video. Check it out!
If you’d like to hire a fundraising consultant, I have a whole post on how to hire a fundraising consultant.
And if you’re looking to deepen your donor relationships in 2019, I’m happy to help. Just go here and let me know what you’re working on!