June 14 header

Do you have these fundraising success traits?  Some things you just have to “be” instead of “know.”

Here are 8 Personal ‘Must Have’ Skills for Rock Star Development Success

1. A Healthy Ego

A healthy ego – that is – a mind that directs its thinking – gives us the ability to withstand the many “no’s” we get along the way to our many “yes’s”.  It allows us to review “no’s” and profit from the analysis. Perhaps we might better tell our story or manage our time to better engage more folks. Or, we might cast off our fear of “rejection” and the time wasted on the “drama de jour.” It also lets us buy-in to our unique place in the process – one that has us sharing or totally giving away “credit” to a volunteer or leader for a job we have actually done well. In fact, doing it well means others felt THEY did it!

2. Passion for your organization’s work

In his leadership Ted Talk, Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”  I believe this means that donors don’t GIVE to WHAT you do, they GIVE because of WHY you do it.   When we lead our relationship building with our sincere passion to share why we do what we do, instead of our numbers and needs, we create lifelong donor relationship success.

3. People Orientation

You need to sincerely like people – talking with, and learning about, other people. Not in a snoopy way and not only because they have something you want (money, influence, connections) but because you genuinely want a win-win relationship with the other person. You need to be a likable person – fun, pleasant, positive, polite.

4. Goal Orientation

While a people-orientation is critical, you must also have a passion to accomplish goals driven by your beliefs. Taking responsibility for a certain level of activity – visits, phone calls, letters, etc. – each month leads to success.  You can control activity, goals, and success. You can’t control someone being ready to say “yes” to your request. We know activity leads to giving success. So embrace this. I often encourage hiring another admin before another fundraiser so that current fundraisers can devote maximum time to the relationship and someone else can do the data entry and follow-up pieces as much as possible.

5. Empathy

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with her heart, seeing with her eyes. Empathy is hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place. We need this at two levels. As a major donor, how does it feel to be “liked” and paid attention to ONLY because you have money, connections, or influence others want? Are you dropped like a hot potato if your fortune turns?

As the “user” of your services, how does it feel to be a struggling student, addict, homeless person, abused person, sick person, struggling leader, or hungry person? Also, How does it feel to be a well-performing student, drug-free, sheltered, out of harm, healthy, strong, and fed?

Feel this without getting dramatic. Don’t take on your victim’s victim mentality.

6. Resilience

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness or the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. My coach, T Harv Eker, says it’s not the size of the problem; it’s the size of you. Think about things that totally threw you at one time and later you wondered why it was such a big deal. Exchange the dramatic overwhelm with vigor to generate possible solutions and seek advice from others (like donors) to help create “wins” from any perceived evil.  Just keep going.

7. Aggressive patience

It’s the giver’s timeline, not ours. Your campaign timeline, operations needs or annual goal, while urgent to you, may not coincide with your donor’s giving timeline. We must be aggressive in continuing to reach out, insert urgency, tell our story one more time or a bit differently, try a different partner, or whatever helps continue the conversation and the journey with our major givers….on their timeline.

8. Creativity

You may not realize this, but creativity is really about self-care. It is rest, food, family, space, exercise, quiet – whatever renews YOUR spirit so it can soar in a vibrant way for the joy of others. When events drain us, metrics overwhelm us, lost grants defeat us, and schedules exhaust us, it’s our cue to re-prioritize our work and life and narrow our focus. What aren’t we going to do so that our marvelous God-given brains can WOW in our world – for ourselves, our families and our donors?

So our take-away from this list?

You must earn the right to ask. Your givers have the right to enjoy their giving. People care about what you do, but give because of why you do it.

Thank you for being the GREAT PERSON you are and allowing me to stretch you a tiny bit more!

Invest in Joy!

Marcy sign


A Tale of Two Non-Profits

by Marcy Heim on June 9, 2017

A tale #2

Everyday you are a leader!

Leaders live life on their own terms. They don’t let circumstances plunge them into contracting. Leaders maximize what they have. They influence others to join in and can persuade others because they are confident they are on the right path.
Let me share a tale of two fictional non-profits.  Let’s say they are about the same size, similar budgets, and focus on educational experiences for youth. Both were looking at a $12 million goal over a period of time – a significant number. Both set out to increase major giving capacity. Both felt there were major donors that had not been engaged. Both were not crystal clear on how some prospective givers would invest. Neither had a history of clear major giving options and regular major gift asks or disciplined major gift practices.

Non Profit A

Non Profit A encountered a massive (almost $2 million) increase in the cost of a building project during the course of a campaign. These costs were explored but quickly we went to “This is the new number.” It’s a small shop. 2.5 people in advancement if you count the CEO.

What Happened?

The goal was increased by $2 Million. From $12.5M to $14.5M at a time when we were just over $9M raised and facing that last hardest final money to secure. This was the real number.

The new goal was announced in the monthly e-news.   This goes out to the Board, all major givers, all prospective givers, and all internal stakeholders. Message simply put, “It’s going to cost more, so we are going to raise more.”

Recommitted to major gift visits. The Chief Development Officer was inexperienced in major gifts and acknowledged getting off track with calls. We identified the distractions – (low-performing activities that seemed urgent) but then moved quickly onto solutions.  Two 3-hour blocks of time each week, away from the distractions of the office, was dedicated to refocus on moving major gifts forward.

Relationship Action Plans were updated and a specific ask date, project and amount noted.  Personal visits were the focus. No looking back, blaming and making up excuses on what didn’t happen prior.

An event and trip were dropped.  Time for personal leave to celebrate a major personal event stayed– life/work harmony is important.

Communicated excitement.  There is always a story to share.

Money already received was used.  This broke traditional “squirreling away” of gifts.  If dollars came in to support a young person and we had one that fit, it was spent and announced. Why give if it’s not used?  Can’t really be needed.

Look for amazing, wonderful surprises.  An unexpected gift came in, a new prospective giver ‘appeared’ during a function who had great capacity.

Volunteer help was embraced. We did not downsize support staff.

More time with counsel.  That’s what we are here for.

Non Profit B

Non-profit B also encountered an unexpected increase of expenses of over $150,000 to manage deferred maintenance, a decline in enrollment, a decline in revenue generated from outside sources, the end of two grants, and an increase in salaries due to some staffing changes. This was on top of an ambitious $12M overall goal that included new projects the Board wanted to pursue. (Many infrastructure costs were not included and some of these projects were added without clear staffing plans.) There were six folks who played some role in development.

What Happened?

Immediate crisis reduction in expenses. The Board panicked and directed the CEO to find immediate cuts to make up for a budget shortfall projected in the next year’s budget.  Support staff was reduced. All hiring, professional development, and travel was frozen.

The signature event that raised $300,000 was celebrated. Numbers were up, but the amount of staff/volunteer time was high and put major giving work on hold.

Development metrics were put into place to coincide with the new database recently up and running. Good move, but met with fear based on loose prior accountability. The board leadership pledged to support the team but the “budget shortfall” message added a feeling of desperation.

There was reluctance to ask. The event, after all, (with few gifts above $5000), was an ask. Options for giving were not clear. Endowments had been managed poorly with little communications to the donors.

Another event was planned. Yikes.

There was this sinking feeling. Key staff were involved in self-drama, personal problems and glued to screen. Bickering and criticism by staff became the norm.

Counsel was terminated with the expense reduction.  Of course – in challenging financial times, cut fundraising staff, hold another event and fire your consultant.

What’s the point?

  • The problem here is not the lack of resources; it’s a lack of resourcefulness.
  • It’s not the lack of solutions; it’s the lack of focus and confidence to pursue solutions.
  • It’s not the lack of a compelling story: it’s a constant undercurrent of negativity and desperation.
  • It’s leadership caring too much about what the board thinks: seeking approval from others reinforces the idea you need external validation.
  • It’s not the lack of opportunities for growth; it’s seeing only shortcomings. Focusing on limitations only builds their strength.
  • It’s not the lack of a bright future, it’s constantly reliving the past “good old days.” Bring your attention to the present moment and start building a better future.

Dial down the drama. Stressing and complaining about problems that don’t really matter just drains valuable energy you could be investing in good actions.

Non-profit A actually has the bigger challenge, but my vote is with them to make up what they lack in resources with a big dose of resourcefulness.

Where are you in this picture?  How are you contributing to your organization’s value and displaying your compelling confidence that you will stay the course and plant the flag on the moon?

Let me know if these tales reflect some of your experiences!

The unexpected tough surprises will always come, but so will the unexpected joys!  I’d look for the joys!

Invest in Joy!

Marcy sign


Does Your Mindset Impact Your Life – And Your Fundraising Results?

June 9, 2017

Since age 17, I’ve been fascinated with the power of our thoughts.  “We become what we think about!” It has more to do with how your life is going than anything else. 3 Ways Your Thinking Impacts Your Life and Your Fundraising Results 1. You CAN change your thoughts It’s important for you to simply […]

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Five Trends for Raising Money Right Now

April 28, 2017

Recently, I dug in and researched trends for success in giving and the role our thinking has on our giving results noted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Charity Navigator, consultant colleagues, Executive Directors, key major donors, my clients, and many of you. Here are my FIVE TRENDS – ideas that successful non-profits are embracing RIGHT NOW– […]

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Do You Know Where You’re Going With Your Givers?

April 3, 2017

Creating successful major giving relationships with your givers is like taking a trip….and it’s an inspiring journey as well! 1. What’s your destination? Before you can create a map, you need to know where you are going! FIRST step! What is your giver (or group of mid-level givers) most passionate about? Based on what you […]

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I Promise…

March 17, 2017

Did you notice how these two words made you feel? For our families, friends, donors, colleagues and boards, “I promise” is a powerful tool for building trust in a relationship. “Son, I promise I’ll get off early Friday, and we will get an ice cream, just us two.” “Honey, I promise after this big project […]

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Ten Tips for Thoughtful Thanks

March 2, 2017

The great thing about gratitude is that it is really never too late to say, “Thank you” or “I appreciate you.”  But too often, we pay lip service to stewardship – all those things that happen AFTER the gift is made. We have terrific intentions to write that note, make a call, or share an update. This is […]

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Rev up your gratitude!

February 13, 2017

Each morning, right after you proclaim, “I create my life!” pause to consider next, “What am I grateful for, thankful for, and sincerely appreciate in my life today?” In this, Part 1 my two-part series on being grateful, I want you to consider who you have to become to sincerely be “grateful.” Next time, in […]

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Harness your positive energy! Here’s how!

February 6, 2017

How are you feeling? Strong, excited, determined? Or back in the grind? I am asked so often about time management and dealing with outside distractions. We lament about where the day, the week, the year…our life.. goes. The speed of time is directly related to our energy. Our energy level is enhanced when we are […]

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We’re OFF in the year 2017!

January 26, 2017

So how will it end? “What, Marcy? It just STARTED!” Early each January my family gathers around our kitchen table. On a half-sheet of off-white card stock, we each write one sentence – a “GET to do” by the END of 2017. Then we pass our sheets around and we each write one for each other. […]

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