In this webinar, Tammy Zonker will show you a system for taking control of your time; establishing role clarity, priorities and performance metrics for busy fundraising pros.
Steven: Again. And yeah, why don’t you take it away? Why don’t we get going here, and we’ll get the recording to folks as well?
Tammy: Perfect. Okay, fantastic. So thank you for joining this webinar on “The Intentional Fundraiser and How to Achieve Extraordinary Results by Really Being Intentional.” To get started, I really want to acknowledge all the nonprofit pros who are live on this session or who are joining the recording. It is a lot that we are dealing with right now with this coronavirus, and yet you are all showing up. You’re showing up for your organizations and you’re showing up for one another, and you’re, certainly, showing up for those that you’re serving.
I just think about, as a fundraising practitioner, I am walking in your shoes, so I’m postponing events and I know you are, too. I know we’re all creating plan B, plan C, and plan D, and we’re generating urgent appeals for support. We’re moving ourselves to a remote workspace, which may or may not be familiar to us. And some of us are doing that for our teams as well, and just trying to keep everyone calm and focused and productive.
And so, like, Steven said in the introduction, there really is no better time to get more intentional and to find our balance in what is quickly becoming our new normal. That’s really what the intentional fundraiser is all about. I would say if we opened your Outlook calendar right now or whatever calendaring system you use, I would ask the question, “What story does your calendar tell about you?” Are you working back-to-back meetings all the time? Do you have things scheduled after-hours and before normal hours and you’re just, like, over scheduled and working these insane number of projects? And I can tell you that was the case for me. That’s actually how the Intentional Fundraiser came to be. Because even before coronavirus, I found myself putting in a full day at the office, and then packing my big tote bag and saying, “Thank goodness it’s 5:00. Now I can go home and get some work done.”
And when I think about the impact of the coronavirus, you don’t even get to go home and get some work done. You’re at home, most of us, all day long. So how do we create an environment where we are productive, where we’re laser focused on the most important things, and knowing what those are now in this new environment? And how do we create some boundaries so that we’re responsive as this crisis unfolds, but we also are taking care of ourselves and our families and not burning ourselves out and so filled with anxiety and stress? How do we do that? So the Intentional Fundraiser is really about giving you tools and a system to get intentional and to create a life that works that’s sustainable and still helps you be the most productive and achieving for your organizations and your missions.
What does it mean to be unintentional? That shows up, like, working long hours and weekends. How many of you respond to email from vacation? Right, you’ve got too many internal meetings, which keeps you from engaging with your donors, especially for those of us that manage a portfolio of major donors, we often feel overwhelmed, which can lead to feeling resentful. I mean, how many of us have been eating all of our meals like over our laptop keyboard? Or, before the coronavirus, we were eating them over our steering wheel in our car. This kind of intense 24/7 activity can really wear us down and shift us from being the optimistic, goal-achieving, inspiring, relationship-building person that we are into a complainer, into someone who’s gossiping or just feeling like, “Okay, this is not the best version of myself, because I’m exhausted.” And that’s what we want to avoid. And I would say especially during this time where there’s so much coming at us all the time. We’re glued to CNN seeing all these updates and we’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh. What’s next?’
A quote that I love from an NFL player who wrote a great book and is a motivational speaker Bo Eason, he says, “Everyone wants to be great, but very few people prepare to be great.” And there’s never been a more important time to prepare to be great. The Intentional Fundraiser system is really built on the work of three brilliant businesspeople, who wrote these three books. Verne Harnish wrote the book called, “Scaling Up,” “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.” Jim Collins, of course, who I’m sure most of us know and love, wrote “Good to Great.” and the nonprofit monograph that complements that. And then, Brendon Burchard, wrote a book, well over a year ago now, called “High Performance Habits.” And if you don’t listen to the podcasts of these folks and follow their work, I really encourage you to do that, just to start.
We’re going to start with “Rockefeller Habits,” and how what we can learn from Rockefeller. Like, literally, Rockefeller, of course, was one of the United States oil and steel moguls. He was a billionaire in the ’30s. And if you think about what that kind of money would mean now, I mean, that’s significant. Someone, literally, said, “Hey, I would like to just figure out how you do what you do.” And they literally followed him around and wrote down how he does what he does, how manages his day, how he creates his mindset, and how he’s developed a strategy for his businesses. So I’m going to kind of walk you through at a high level of what then became the Rockefeller habits.
And I will tell you this approach, these habits, are something that you can do to develop your vision and your strategy in your personal career, it could be a tool you use. For those of you who are executive directors, or president and CEOs of your organization, it could be how you work with your leadership team to set the strategy for your organization. And then, for those of us who might be development directors or chief advancement officers or chief development officers, it could be how we create a strategy for our advancement team. So you can apply it in many different ways.
It really starts with kind of like Stephen Covey taught us in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” one of his habits was start with the end in mind. And so, for Rockefeller, the end was like, what is his 10 to 15-year vision? What Collins came to call the big hairy audacious goal, or the BHAG, in his book “Good to Great.”
And then, backing up from that 10 to 15-year vision, what would be a 3-year milestones or maybe three to five, 3-year milestones that would tell us we are on our way to achieving that BHAG? Looking back from the three-year focus, what would we need to achieve in the next year? What three to five things would we need to achieve in the next 12 months to ensure we were on our way to achieving our 3-year focus that would get us to our 10 to 15-year focus?
Then, looking at quarterly rocks. In other words, what would be the things that we would need to tackle, the initiatives, the goals, the projects that we would need to distinguish, define, put measures to that we would take on quarter by quarter that would ensure we were going to hit our one year initiative? And then backing up to what we now call smart numbers, meaning, what are the daily activities that we can take individually within our unique roles? Whether you’re a development officer, an event planner, you’re in charge of the grant management process, what would be the daily activities you would need to perform and measure that you know are driving you toward achieving your quarterly rocks, achieving your greatest results?
I’ve got an animation I’m going to show you here in a moment that’ll explain that more clearly. But I often get the question, “Well, business can shift. Like, who would have ever predicted a coronavirus?” If you had followed this process, if you had a 10 to 15-year BHAG and a 3-year focus and a 1-year initiative and quarterly rocks right now, your leadership team would be coming together to say, “How does this coronavirus impact these goals and measures moving forward? Do we need to change them?” Even under normal circumstances, you would review quarterly rocks, you guessed it, every single month. You would review your one-year initiative every single quarter.
You would review your 3-year focus annually, and you would look at your 10 to 15-year BHAG, or big hairy audacious goal, at least every three years to ensure that it’s taking you where you need to go. Or, have the circumstances or goals of our organization shifted in such a way that we should refine these? Maybe you’ve gone through a merger. Maybe there’s been a crisis. And the impact of that has had you scale down or maybe not scale down, but laser focus on a core of maybe three programs versus the 10 programs you were doing. So there is a review process to make certain that your strategy, your habits, your measurable goals at the quarterly, 1-year, 3-year in 10 to 15-year marks are still relevant.
Here’s what a rock is, right? A rock, we said, are those priority activities that we’re looking at quarter by quarter by quarter. What we’re going to introduce this concept of pebbles, and pebbles are important tasks. These are the things like you’ve got to do. It could be performance reviews, supervisions with your team. It could be reviewing your gift acknowledgement letters, right? Priority activities, for a major gift officer, could be face-time with donors, stewardship, producing those impact reports. Conveying to our donors what are the results. What’s the impact of their past giving, both in measurable ways, but also through stories, moving and inspiring stories of life that are changed.
So you’ve identified, like, what are your priority areas, the rocks, what are those important tasks, things that you have to do, glamorous things like approving payroll. And then come the distractions, what we refer to as sand. These might be a person who comes to your door, knock, knock, knock and says, “Do you have five seconds?” And they want your opinion on something that’s not even related to your area of accountability or fundraising, or donor engagement or anything. And they could be distractions. So the whole key is to keep those to a minimum and to address those issues last. What I do is I do use Outlook to manage my calendar, and I literally color code my calendar for green for my priorities. These are donor visits. It might be executive leadership team meetings. My pebbles, approve payroll, do supervision with my team, really important tasks. And then the distractions. And the distractions aren’t always planned. Sometimes, they can be.
I mean, I’ve been invited into my fair share of space planning meetings. Like, “Okay. Well, I know it’s important to the agency that we understand where child welfare is going to sit, but it might not be that important to my core accountabilities as chief advancement officer.” They’re important to the agency, but does it really impact and leverage my core accountabilities and my unique expertise? Is it the highest use of my time for the agency? And those are judgment calls. For things that you say, “They really aren’t. Other people are expert in that, they don’t need me,” those become distractions. So I go back in, even into my calendar, and I will add things after the fact and I will call it those distraction items, and I will color code them red so at the end of the week, I can look back at a glance and say, “Did I spend the majority of my time in my priority areas? How much did I get distracted by things that really aren’t my core accountability? Sure, I was helpful, and I’m a team player, but I want to make certain that those things stay in proportionate balance.”
And I know you’re thinking of your own list of things that don’t leverage your own unique expertise, and really are not your core accountability. And you do them because you’re a great person, you care, you’re a great team player, which is fine. And we need to keep those to a minimum. There should never be more red on your calendar than there is green. And sometimes, that happens to us, because we’re so darn nice and helpful. But, at the end of the day, is the board going say, “She met her fundraising goal. Hooray.” Or, “She didn’t meet her fundraising goal, but, man, is she helpful.” Like, we know how that story ends.
Here’s a little animation. I’m going to play it and then I’ll narrate just a little bit. Little catchy tune. The distractions are the sand, the pebbles are the important tasks, and the priorities are the rocks. And you can see that if you address distractions first and then tasks, there’s no room left in your day in this amount of space you have for your priorities. And look how sad those rocks look now. But if you start with rocks and prioritize those, the big things, the things that are your unique ability that are the most important to your core accountability, then you address your important tasks, the things that have to get done, and keep those distractions to a minimum and prioritize them last, you’ll be successful. See how happy those little rocks are. That’s what we want. We want you happy, we want your board happy, we want to serve more people, and we want you being successful, and that will not happen by accident.
The number one . . . I won’t say number one, but among the top ways of being intentional is to understand what is your role truly. Role clarity is so important. In fact, Penelope Burk in one of her research projects that came out in her donor-centered leadership book, she said that on average, fundraising professionals spent 55% of their time on activities not related to fundraising. And I’m sure that some of us can relate to that. It is easy to get pulled into a number of different things that aren’t related to fundraising because, again, there’s just so much to do. And, yes, I’m happy to share the animation. I see that in the chat box, so we’ll do a Dropbox after the session. I’ve got a couple other goodies I can share with you, too. If this is you, if you’re not spending 60% of your time in priority areas that are directly related to your core accountabilities, we need a little calendar makeover, a priority makeover, because this will not get you to success. And as Penelope’s survey demonstrates, it is an issue.
It really starts with, it’s not glamorous, but it’s necessary, going back to your position description. Now, some of you have been in your role for a while. I mean, hopefully. I know we have a retention issue in our sector. But if you’ve been in your position for a while, and even if you’re relatively new, go back to your position description and see how true is it to what you’re actually doing, or what you actually should be doing. Of course, we’ve got our core values and our qualifications here, but focus on those bulleted responsibilities and key performance indicators, if you have them. In this example, a key performance indicator might be 10 to 12 face-to-face visits with a donor each month. Now, I know, with coronavirus, we’re not doing a whole lot face-to-face anything right now, but you could have phone calls. We have these great tools that allow video chats. The point is connecting with donors strategically with purpose with intention.
So how true is your position description to what you’re actually doing or should be doing. And if there’s a big gap, true it up and have that conversation with your chief advancement officer or if you are the chief advancement officer, with your executive director, to say, “We have a disconnect, and to produce the results that we need, we need to true this up.”
There’s a tool that I love that complements the job description, and it’s called an accountability matrix. For this particular position, or any position, you’ve got this column on the left that details the accountability area. If we took all of those responsibilities from the job description, and we were to categorize them into three to five areas, like, prospecting, or retention and stewardship, or team activities, maybe you’re actually supervising a team. If you had to do a stacked ranking of which of those accountabilities are your top priority, how would that look? Because we all know the old saying, if everything is important, nothing is important.”
What is the stacked ranking of those three to five priorities? And, in a perfect world, on average, how much time should you be spending in each of those areas? Now, I know we have events. And so those are kind of there’s a cycle to those to those, so those might take away from your individual donor engagement a bit. And then when the event is done and the follow up is complete, your individual donor engagement might spike back up. But, on average, what percentage of your time should you be spending in each of those areas? And then, what are the success factors? What does success look like? So often, our fundraisers, our teams, and even ourselves, we don’t know what success looks like.
And if you go back to that August article of “The Chronicle of Philanthropy” that says, “Fundraisers are fed up,” and it says that over half of fundraisers are planning on leaving their jobs in the next two years and 30% of fundraisers are planning on leaving their organizations all together. It’s because we feel like we can’t win. The top two reasons that fundraisers reported that sense of unhappiness was because they felt like there were unrealistic expectations and that their work was not appreciated. This can bring clarity to, “What am I really supposed to be doing? And what does success look like?” And so, when things start to get wonky and you start to get pulled into too many meetings, you can go back and say, “Listen, I’d love to come to that meeting, but this is my priority. This is what the board and this team are counting on me for. And so let me get the notes from that other meeting. Let me add in a different way. But I don’t have two hours to do that this week.”
So your number one most important daily success factor really is prioritizing your work and finding those polite, nice but very clear ways of saying, “No, thank you. Not now,” to things that are not your priorities. To build the muscle for being more intentional and setting priorities, I created a placemat, a fillable PDF. It prints out 11-by-17. Again, I’m happy to share this. It’s not intended to replace your Outlook calendar. It really is intended to be a training tool or a planning tool. And so you can see with these orange arrows, for me, I like to do it on Sunday evening. For you, you might like to do it on Monday morning before the week starts. But I like to set two things. First, in this upper right-hand arrow, I like to set what is my weekly intention. Maybe this week is the week that I am going to focus on donor love.
I’m going to call, especially with this coronavirus, I am working with my groups and my team to call donors and check in on them, especially my older donors, but really prioritizing older donors, but getting through the full list of major donors, leadership-level donors, loyal monthly donors and saying, “Hey. I’m just checking in on you. Are you okay? Is your family okay? I’m thinking about you?” And then, of course, just to express gratitude. You know, “We don’t say it enough, but we couldn’t do this work without you. You are changing lives.”
What is my weekly intention? Another week, my intention could be I’m going to pour into my team this week. I’m going to make sure they’re doing okay. We’re going to talk about their training and development needs. I want this team to grow and develop and stay with us. So I’m going to spend some time doing that. And then, on this left-hand side, I am going to spell out of the 40-hours, ha-ha, 50, however many hours, I have determined I’m going to spend working, what are the top three to five things I must accomplish?
Now, here’s the pitfall where some folks can fall into it. They’ll look at what’s on their Outlook calendar and they’ll say, “Of the things on my calendar, these are the three to five top most important things.” That’s not what I’m asking you to do, because your calendar may not be aligned with your priorities at all. Or, there could be other priority items that you simply don’t have on your calendar. So what are my top three to five must-get-done priorities this week? And if I don’t get them done, I will call the week a failure, not a total failure. And I won’t make myself wrong, I won’t beat myself up, but I’ll say, “Okay, what kept me from accomplishing these top three to five things? And what can I do next week to ensure I get them done?”
Here’s what we all know, activity does not equal effectiveness. I honestly could sit at my desk and answer the phone and respond to emails 60 hours a week and stay very busy, and I know you could, too. But are those activities the things that are the most effective? And the chances are not all of them are. Thank you. Beth Ann Locke says, “This is awesome.” Beth Ann Locke is awesome.
Whoops. Okay, so here we go. Here’s the thing I want you to know. And this really blows people’s minds when they hear it. It takes about 23 minutes to recover from an interruption in your work. If you were focused, if you were working on that major gift proposal, if you were writing a case for support, and you get that “Knock, knock, knock. Do you have five minutes?” If you heard your text message, “Bing,” and you checked it, if your phone rang, and you answered it, it will take you, on average, about 23 minutes to get back into the mind space that you were in before you allowed that interruption into your world. Now, think about how many interruptions you get in a single day and multiply the impact of that.
So let’s just talk about being intentional and having those priorities. And as we go through this session, I’m going to give you some tools and tips for how to stay focused and block out the interruption and time-box when you’re responding to those impromptu requests.
Let’s talk about key performance indicators. For a major gift officer or someone maybe a director of development, face-to-face visits, or we’re going to call them donor visits, whether those are in-person or, in this new world, it could be a video conference, it could be in-person six-feet apart. And I’m not joking about coronavirus. It’s really serious, but we have to find ways to still build relationships and strengthen our connections even in the face of this horrible pandemic.
So face-to-face visits is one smart number, handwritten gratitude notes, gratitude and impact calls, mission tours. Now, for the groups I work with, and even my own organization as chief philanthropy officer, we have paused mission tours because of this virus, but we will resume them when we come out on the other end of this. And then, another smart number would be solicitation proposals that you’ve created.
Now, early in my career, as I worked with, and managed major gift officers, I found that I needed to put some criteria to what a quality donor contact was. Sometimes, you hear the story, and I had the experience of like a major gift officer, who’s just exceeded their 10 to 12 face-to-face visits in a month. It’s, like, that’s so awesome. I see it in our database, and Bloomerang is an amazing donor database. Like, “I see that you met with Paige on Saturday. Well, thank you. That was above and beyond. What was that about?” “Oh, I ran into her at the grocery store.” “Oh, well, did you guys grab a cup of coffee afterwards or what?” “No, no, we just talked in the checkout line.” “Oh, well, did you tell her about that project she funded and the outcomes?” No, no. I just heard about Christian, her son and his soccer team, and we talked about their upcoming vacation.”
Now. Those are great things to build and strengthen the relationship between the fundraiser and the donor. But do they really strengthen the relationship between the donor and the organization? You see, we are just the conduit. It’s really not about us being “friends,” it’s about connecting donors deeply to the cause that they are so passionate about. So I created these qualifiers. So I did that face-to-face meeting, or that phone call, did it leave the donor feeling appreciated and more emotionally related to our work? Did it increase their knowledge about our work or the needs that are coming up, especially with this coronavirus it is impacting our ability to serve people, if we were in face-to-face service delivery models.
I know even for my humane societies that I work with, they are so reliant on volunteers and then volunteers are not leaving their homes, understandably. So this little small team of staff are trying to rotate who’s going to feed the dogs? Who’s going to do the intakes? You see what I mean, and you’re living it yourself. And did that engagement help them understand the outcome or the impact of their prior contributions? And, of course, my rule is, if it’s not in the donor database, it does not count.
All right. On this planner, along this right-hand column, here are some activities that we want to measure. Let’s just say my goal is to write five handwritten notes a week. You could write more, but who would be the five people? Let me write that down on Sunday night. Who would be at least the five gratitude calls I would make? Who am I going to be following up with to get them on a tour when tours resume? And who am I going to be calling because I know it’s time to sit down with them and have a face-to-face? Or, in this world now, until we move through this virus, it could be a phone call, it could be a video conference. But, again, being strategic. And, of course, this should all be tied to your major gift portfolio planner, or your moves management system, however, you’re doing this inside your database.
I have a training tool here, a fillable PDF, just to get people like in this planning of how to do this. But you can see my tier one donors, so these would be the folks that I’m planning on asking for a gift in the next 90 days, tier-two, 91 days to 120, and then, tier-three, could be even the categories. So the point being that the activities, the handwritten notes, the tour guests, the face-to-face, are prioritized by who’s coming up for an ask or who’s coming up for renewal, or who’s just made a great gift and I want to share the impact. And, again, this is another great tool that yes, of course, I’m happy to share it.
Okay, block time. This is another incredible tool for you, blocking your calendar for priority projects, scheduling time on your calendar to work on these projects and initiatives. So it could be I’m blocking out every Wednesday to meet with donors, or I’m taking these two hours every Thursday for prospect review. But whatever it is that is a priority for you, you should dedicate time on your calendar for it. Block it out and say what you’re doing so people know you’re working, but you’re working on priorities. And you’ve got to honor and hold that time like it was a meeting with your most precious beloved donor. Often, we will give up our time, we’ll sacrifice ourselves, we’ll kind of martyr, in some cases, to meet the needs of other people when we know those items that we were sacrificing this block time for, for us, are distractions. And we can’t do that if we’re going to be high-achieving and really move the needle on our fundraising.
Here on this calendar you can see, on Wednesday, I’ve blocked the whole day for major donors. On Tuesday morning, from 9:00 to noon, I’m doing portfolio review. And on Friday afternoon, I’m smiling and dialing. I am writing handwritten notes. It is all about gratitude and donor love. I’m being intentional in this way. Evaluating how you spent your time and how you prioritize needs to be done on a weekly basis. It’s one of the reasons I recommend that you color code your calendar so you can see at a glance. I don’t want you to do a time-consuming time study. I want you to eyeball it because you color coded it. And I want you to see that 60% of your week was spent on needle-moving priority activities, and that you kept important tasks to around 30% and you kept distractions to no more than 10% of your time.
Now, this is the goal. Some weeks you will far exceed that, and some weeks you will fail miserably, but at least you’ll know you did. And you can course correct, you can analyze, “How did I get so far off track? Oh, the coronavirus.” That’s probably a good reason to get pulled off track. But we’ve got a true it up because this seems as if it’s going to be our reality for a while, and we still have a job to do for those we serve.
Arianna Huffington, who I admire immensely, wrote an amazing book called “Thrive.” And she says that no matter how magnificent your job is, you are more magnificent. So it really speaks to the fact that we have to take care of ourselves, and we have to internalize that self-care is not selfish. We are usually, in this industry in this sector, so giving, so caring that we will work ourselves into the ground. And especially since everything that’s been happening in the last week, even in the last three days, we’re burning the candle at both ends and it is not sustainable. Eighty percent of all U.S. health care costs are stress related, and that is a direct correlation, rather, to how well we care for ourselves and prioritize our wellness.
You have to have a priority on your own self-care and a list of things that you commit to yourself. Now, those could be morning and evening routines. I can tell you, I get up at 4:00 a.m., which I know some of you are gasping right now, but I also go to bed no later than 10:00. Sometimes, 9:00, no kidding. I’m just brighter in the morning. Your goal is to get seven to eight hours of sleep every single day.
Now, I don’t always achieve that. In fact, I don’t always achieve everything on this self-care list, but I am dedicated to progress, not perfection, but progress. So we’ve got to do our checkups. We’ve got to exercise and move our bodies. We have to eat well-balanced, well-timed nutritious food. My biggest . . . well, not my biggest issue. But one of my issues previously was, yeah, I could keep my calories between 1200 and 1500 calories a day, but I would end up eating them all at 8:00 p.m. That doesn’t work, so that’s what I mean when I say well-timed. We’ve got to drink water, and we have to work with our physician, our nutritionist, to make sure we’re getting the right vitamins and supplements for our body, wherever we are in whatever stage of life we’re in.
When I go back to my calendar, you can see on Mondays from 11:30 to 12:30, I’m walking. And maybe I’m walking with my team. Like, let’s just walk together and get some movement, especially now that the weather’s getting a bit nicer. So I’m walking on Monday and Thursday over our lunchtime. And I’ve committed myself on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday night to walking, well, I walk my dogs, but walking then, too. Like, you’ll figure out what works for you, but it needs to be in your calendar and you need to honor it.
Stop doing lists. We need to create some stop doing lists or do differently lists. Now, this is not my idea. This actually came from Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great.” He says you have to have a stop doing list to go with your to-do list. And isn’t that the truth? In our sector, we have new ideas coming down the pike, there are new opportunities, and we keep piling them on our already heavy workload. In other words, we never stop doing anything. We just keep doing more. And then, we wonder why over half of us are planning to leave our jobs. So it has to stop.
What activities, projects, events? What no longer serves your organization. Are you looking at all of these events? Are you too dependent on events, which are so laborious and have the highest cost per dollar raised? Maybe you should stop doing some of those events, or you could do them differently.
Jim Collins introduces us to this concept he calls the hedgehog. And the hedgehog is really it’s asking yourself three questions what are you deeply passionate about either as an organization or an individual or a department? What can you be the best in the world at doing? And what fuels your economic resource engine? And in these concentric circles of these three questions, whatever is in the center of those circles, that’s your hedgehog. So anything that falls out of those, you should be asking yourself, “Well, then, if we’re not passionate about that as an organization, if we’re not really good at doing that as an organization, or if like, we’re really good at it and we’re super passionate about it, but we’re losing $2 million a year on it, is it something we should continue doing, or doing it the same way we do it now?” These are the questions around creating your stop doing list.
Now, Collins tells us there are three ways to stop doing. Once you’ve defined that list, he says, you could, one of three ways, you could just define the list and only work in your personal hedgehog. Like that’s the old ripping the Band-Aid off approach. Number two, you could just start doing your stop doing list. Over time, you could have a plan for what timeframe you’re going to be stopped doing things or doing them differently. And then the other way he says to do it is just list all your projects or programs and rank from one to however many, stack rank them most important to least important and then reassign or delegate or chop the bottom 20%. Now, again, you can’t do this overnight, but it’s something you should be doing.
Now, here’s what I know. Look in this lower, left-hand quadrant. There is a section for your stop doing list. Here’s the thing. If I said, “Everyone on the call pick, pull out a piece of paper and write down everything you should stop doing.” You could probably come up with two or three, maybe five things right now. But the way you’ll be the most effective in creating your stop doing list is if you make note in the moment. How many of us have been in a meeting and you’re thinking to yourself, “Why am I here? Why are we doing this? This doesn’t make any sense.” It’s in the moment, making that note that this is a contender for my stop doing list. So I want you to have a mechanism for keeping a running list, and then bringing those to maybe a strategy session or a strategic planning session and having those conversations with leadership or within your department.
What about new ideas and opportunities, right, because they’re always coming at us one after another. My response is, “No is the new yes.” You can’t say yes to everything. Or, if it’s really compelling, if that new opportunity is the thing to do, then you’ve got to figure out what comes off your plate to make room for it.
Your cell phone, oh my goodness, your cell phone I say it can be a weapon of mass distraction or a tool of intention.
Here’s another one of those stats that blows people away every time. Did you know that according to the High Performance Institute, reading email within 60 minutes of waking reduces your daily productivity by 30%? Here’s why. When you wake up, for most of us, that’s when we are thinking about our day ahead, “What’s my intention? What am I going to accomplish? What are the most important things?” If you check your email before you have at least an hour to reflect, to drink your water, to move your body, whatever your morning routine is, everyone else’s agenda aka email is swirling around in your head, it might even have your blood pressure spiking, right? So focus on your priorities before you get into email, which I’ve heard is called an organizing system for other people’s priorities.
Here are some intentional fundraisers’ cell phone behaviors that I am going to recommend. First of all, don’t check email or even social media first thing in the morning. You know how we put our phones on airplane mode when we get on an airplane? You can actually do that in the office for your block time. You can use reminders. Like, I have reminders every hour that say, “Drink water. Don’t check your email two hours before bedtime. Don’t sleep with your cell phone besides your bed.” Oh, I hear you gasping right now, and some of you are saying, “Well, I have children.” Yes, I do, too, and I used to use that as an excuse, even though my kids are 29 and 30. But so what I’ve really come to is, “You know what? I could plug my cell phone in because it’s my alarm. I can plug it in the bathroom near my bed, but not right beside my pillow.:
Schedule time to check email throughout the day. Use your email to share information not to have conversations. In other words, my general rule is, if it takes more than three back and forths, somebody should pick up the phone and have a conversation if it takes more than three email back and forths.
And then defines your favorite productivity and wellness apps that support your wellbeing and help you be more efficient. I know you probably all have some. Here are a few of mine. I love MileIQ. It helps me track my mileage, swipe left for personal travel, swipe right for business travel. I’ve got Wunderlist for lists making. Scannable, it’s a free app. I can scan a gift agreement. I can scan a pledge card right there in the field. It turns it into a PDF that I email back to the office that can get uploaded into the donor management system. TripIt helps organize my travel. I can literally book Delta and Hertz and then forward it to TripIt and it creates an itinerary for me. I used to spend so much time in creating an itinerary. Headspace for meditation. [WonderNote 00:47:11], this is a great tool for, like, when I’m driving and I shouldn’t be texting. I don’t text when I’m driving. So I just pick up the phone and, literally, like, just push that button and record a message to myself. Basecamp, a project management tool.
I want to move on to this one, be responsible for your words and emotional wake. And this is super important now because of the coronavirus. Like, anxiety is high and people are nervous. And as leaders, they’re looking to us, like, what’s your tone? Are you freaking out? Because that will only unnerve them more. So be responsible for your words and your emotion awake, your positivity, your calmness, your directives. If we kind of devolve to complaining, or scarcity conversations, or gossiping, or any of those, like, not your highest self-kinds of ways of being and, and talking, it will disempower your team and distract them from the important work ahead.
Here’s a tool called the Accountability Ladder that was created by a strategic planning firm called Nexecute, and you can see this line of reality. The top of that ladder is gratitude, and that’s where people have a make it happen, find solutions kind of mentality and way of being. And below the line is when we’re thinking, “I can’t.” We’re coming up with excuses. We’re blaming others. So, literally, I’m working with teams where we print this out, we hang it up in our cubicles or offices, or now, like, it might be on your refrigerator if you’re working from home. And you want to make certain when you hear yourself talking, that you’re in those upper rungs of the ladder. That’s what your team needs.
And, of course, we’ve always found with the teams I work with that having a definition of integrity, like, what people can count on you for is important, a shared definition that we can all agree on. And I love this one from Landmark Education that says, “Doing what you said you would do by when you said you would do it. And getting into communication the moment that you can’t do what you said you were going to do. Recommitting, gaining agreement on new terms, doing the work the way it was designed to be done, or better, no shortcuts.”
Another great tip goal attainment theory. We know if you have an accountability partner, or you’re sharing your goals, you have a 30% likelihood, a higher likelihood, of actually attaining that goal, so have an accountability partner. I do recommend it’s not your spouse or your significant other because that only leads to, well, you know. So have it be a friend, a colleague, someone you trust.
Setting boundaries, especially in this environment where you could easily be working from home and never step away from your computer. You have to have the discipline to say, “You know what? On Monday and Thursday, I have to stop working at 5:00.” Or, “I’m going to stop from 5:00 to 8:00 and spend time with my family, have dinner, tuck my babies into bed, and then I’ll go back for maybe an hour, no more.” So you have to figure out what your boundaries are and hold to them. Brené Brown says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” But I will tell you, boundaries are the only way to be sustainable in this sector, in this role as fundraisers. So what does that look like on your Intentional Fundraiser Planner, you can see on Monday and Thursday, 000, out of the office, or whatever version that is now, working from home for most of us.
Gratitude, gratitude is important to keep our spirits high and to have that positivity. We know that people who are grateful have a sense of abundance in their lives. They feel joy, both when expressing it and receiving it, and they’re generally happier and more satisfied in life. And in times of crisis like this, a little gratitude goes a long way. We’re looking for those shiny moments.
So a few ways to cultivate gratitude, whether you start and end your day or bookend your day with gratitude, developing a daily gratitude list, even just with your family, or with your team, like, share some good news. What was the best part of your day today? And finding gratitude even in the struggles. And not forgetting to thank yourself and to acknowledge yourself for getting through today. Give yourself permission to prioritize yourself to be intentional and consistent. You’ve got to be consistent with the things that we’re talking about.
Consistency is king or queen. It’s like going to the gym, or working out from home, if you only do it twice a year, you’re not going to see the results. So consistency is the king because more intention equals more lives change, more success, high fives, longer tenure, more health, love, and joy.
Here are your top 10 actions to be an intentional fundraiser. Definitely take on however many of these you can take on right now. Maybe it’ll take you three months or six months to take them all on. Go at a pace that makes sense for you, but start now.
The author of “How to be Great” said, “If you don’t want to live just an ordinary life, you’ll have to be intentional about that what you have been called to do.” And here’s what I know, if you are on this call, if you are in this sector, and you’ve been in the sector for more than a couple years, you’ve been called to this, you have a calling. And so you’ve got to be intentional to fulfill on that. You are worthy of so much incredible success, and that won’t happen by accident.
All right. I just do want to say that I’ve got some additional tools, the animation, the fillable PDF planner, the fillable PDF major donor portfolio that I’m happy to share and I’m offering anybody on the webcast, if you want more, the Intentional Fundraiser Masterclass is coming up and I’ll give you 15% off, just go to that URL, and this is all in the deck that you’ll be getting.
Oh, my goodness. We did pretty well, despite our little technology glitch at the beginning. Steven, I’m going to turn it back to you.
Steven: Yeah, it was worth the wait. I knew it would be. Thanks, Tammy. That was awesome. And thanks all of you for rolling with the punches for us and hanging out with us. I know we started late. But if you missed any of it, don’t worry. We’ll get you the recording. But we’ve got some time for questions. Tammy, as long as you’ve got a few minutes, you tell me when you need to stop.
Tammy: I’m happy to take questions.
Steven: Okay, cool. Well, send in some questions, folks, if you haven’t already. Tammy, I was just sitting here wondering so much of our landscape has changed in the last couple weeks. I think most people who are listening are probably working from home. And it seems like it’s even harder now, I’m just speaking personally, maybe other people can relate both separating the work from not work, because now we don’t even have that physical distance between the office. What are you doing? I mean, have you got any tips for us for how not to succumb to just like having that laptop in your lap for 16 hours a day and not eating food at your makeshift desk? I mean, what are you doing? Because I need it, too.
Tammy: Yes, I’m telling you that the block time is key, whether it’s for you and also for your teams. So I’ve encouraged the folks working on my team. I’m like, “When I look at your calendar, I’m want to see at least 30 minutes, 20 minutes a day, where you’re doing like a mental health break, whether that’s going for a walk or you’re doing some meditation, whatever your version of a mental health break is, I want to see it. I don’t want to see emails coming in at 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., so not only modeling it yourself and having that discipline. I mean, if it’s not crisis, please wait until the morning. Please step away from your computer because this is our new mode for, according to CNN and the White House, it could be August, maybe July and maybe longer. We can’t operate like this working 12, 13, 14-hour days every day. We’ll just implode.
So block time and discipline and boundaries. And have that conversation with your supervisor or maybe you’re the top dog. No offense, I love dogs. But if you’re like the top person, you’ve got to not only demonstrate this, but you’ve got to share this message with your team, like, “I need you all to be with us for the long haul and to be sustainable, so please step away, please have some boundaries.” And share what those are with the team. I just got an email from a colleague, a peer, on my executive leadership team who said, “You know what? I’m stepping away. I’m going to be away for from 3:00 to 4:00, because I just need a break. So please don’t text me, or call me during that time. Call so and so if it is truly an emergency.”
Steven: So it’s part of this is also giving your team permission, not just allowing yourself to not succumb to these things. I think it’s an important point.
Tammy: Yeah, and you’ve got a model it. You can’t say, “Do what I say, not what I do.”
Steven: Ruth just chimed in here. What about folks who are a one-person team? Maybe it’s just them and maybe another boss or board members? Is it accountability partners outside the organization? Your friends and family? What do you think for those one-person shops?
Tammy: Yeah, for small shops, one-person shops. I would say, I mean, first of all, I would have a conversation with the president and say, “Listen, here are my priorities for the next month, two months, the next quarter. Do I have your buy-in on this?” “Okay, great.” So what that means is I’m going to take these other things and they are going to be low priorities or stop doing for this quarter during these circumstances, “Do I have your buy-in? Okay, great because here’s what I can accomplish with your buy-in.” And then having that accountability partner, whether it’s a fellow AFPer, or a friend who understands, someone who, like, you can debrief with. Not complain and gossip, but debrief and set those goals and have as an accountability partner, both ways.
Steven: I love it. I love it. Here’s one from Frankfort, can you recommend a gentle way to promote a culture of self-care and boundaries when maybe that didn’t even exist at all before this situation? It seems, you know, I read that question thinking, “Gee, that sounds hard.” But then as I was asking the question, maybe it’ll be easier now. I don’t know. What do you think just with the situation? Maybe folks are more understanding?
Tammy: Yeah, I think if you can have that courageous conversation at the top, especially if you are leading a team, or maybe you’re speaking on behalf of, or just even on your own behalf, having that courageous conversation, like, “Wow, I’m just seeing people working around the clock and I’m noticing that people seem very stressed, anxiety seems high. I feel anxiety. And if this is going to be our new normal for the foreseeable future, I feel like we need some guidelines to ensure this team’s health and sustainability through this crisis.” There’s a reason why they say, “Put your own oxygen mask on first,” in the airplane crisis. So I think it’s those conversations, because it’s not about, like, “I want to do less. It’s not about, now is my chance to do yoga every day. Whoo-hoo.” It’s really about, like, “Wow, we’re going to have to care for one another and care for ourselves to get through this to still continue serving our mission.”
Steven: And it’s not just the mental care, but also the physical care. One thing that we’ve been experiencing at Bloomerang and we’re starting to have conversations about it is just not getting up and walking, like, maybe they would in the office, so going outside, taking walks, if you’ve got a treadmill at home or a stationary bike or something like that . . . and I’m feeling that as well, so we’ve been intentional, just as a family, about getting outside for at least once a day when it’s not pouring down rain like it is now.
Tammy: It’s so good and so necessary. Truly, we should have been doing this all along, but it’s super important now.
Steven: Yeah. Maybe that’ll be one bright side from all this, if there’s such a thing. Well, Tammy, this was awesome. Any parting thoughts for folks before we wrap up here?
Tammy: I would say just go back to that list of, like, the 10 recommended ways of being intentional as soon as we hang up, and pick two to three that you’re going to begin implementing right away, and just start doing it. And get an accountability partner to hold you true to it.
Sammy: I love it. This is awesome. Thanks for being here, Tammy, and being willing to do this, even though we couldn’t get you connected for about a half hour. I’m so sorry about that, everyone, but so glad all of you joined us eventually.
Tammy: Yeah. Everyone, stay safe and healthy, and be intentional, because that’s how we are going to get through this and still be successful.
Steven: Absolutely. I’m just going to let everyone know real quick about some webinars we got coming up, including one tomorrow. I know a lot of you are probably having to cancel some in-person events. Well, we reached out to some folks that are sort of masters at putting on online virtual conferences, and they’re going to share that knowledge with you tomorrow. So, if you’ve got time tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, there’s going to be a really cool session. If you can’t make it, don’t worry, we’ll record it just like this one, just like we always do.
And then, next week, I believe Tuesday the 24th, if I got that, right, our buddy Erica Waasdorp is going to come on and talk about monthly donors. She’s kind of the monthly donor queen, and monthly donors, I think, need a lot of attention right now. We don’t want to lose them. We definitely want to keep them sustaining our organization. So that’s going to be an awesome session as well. So, hopefully, you can join us one or both of those sessions. But if you can’t, don’t worry, we’re going to record them. We’ll get that to you. There’ll be on our blog, you’ll see it. And might even sneak in a third webinar within that period of time. We’re talking to somebody coming on, so stay alert to your inbox. I know you’re getting flooded with all kinds of resources right now. I’m sorry about that. But we’re trying to get some good stuff out to you from Bloomerang.
So we will call it a day there. Thanks for hanging out with us. I know we went a little long. I apologize for that, but I think was worth the wait. And, Tammy, thanks so much to you. Stay safe out there, stay warm, and we will talk to you again, hopefully, next week. Bye now.