Data only works if YOU do! Part II

by Marcy Heim on June 26, 2019

Let’s get real here, folks.  Data only works if you do.

You can use data for better or for worse depending on your objectives. I challenge you to embrace that data gives you the OPPORTUNITY to be successful only if you TAKE ACTION WITH IT!

How many on-line programs have we purchased to never get past Module I?

How many reports have we created about our giving numbers only to continue to hold the same events, send the same letters and postpone the same major donor visits?

How many feasibility studies have we purchased that say there are folks out there who will support the project, but we never build the relationships and ask?

How many times have we talked about the data around a non-performing staff member (doesn’t return phone calls, show up, make the calls etc)  or a weak ED but don’t make a staffing change?

How many times have we looked at the data around board giving and looked for ways to create “100% Board Giving” to fill out a grant application?   

Data only works if YOU do!
How DO you work with Data?


Everything starts here.

You can manipulate data to give you the message you want – often times that leads us to finding excuses like, “It’s not my fault. It’s out of my control.”

Getting Things Done

Data supports you and advises on actions, yes…but numbers and reports and studies and programs do nothing but take up space in your computer or on your shelf without YOU deciding you are going to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Often this means change- doing things outside of your comfort zone.

  • Walking 4 miles every day regardless of being tired or stiff.
  • Leaving NOW for your daughter’s soccer game regardless of what remains undone at the office.
  • Turning on the German lesson or doing Module I.
  • Making the call for that first major giving visit, and the next…
  • Putting off other work distractions to focus on the campaign, today and again tomorrow.
  • Replacing staff.
  • Inspiring the Board to give.

This is about fear.

Fear of making mistakes.

Fear of being laughed at as you take your 180 pounds to the gym.

Fear of a donor saying ‘no’.

Fear of failing to raise the money.

Fear of the what will happen without the poor performing staff member…at least they are doing something.

Fear of Board members quitting.

Fear you can’t do it. You are not enough.

Ironically we even have fear around being successful!  What if your love life isn’t remarkably different 30 pounds lighter?  What if you raise the money and struggle to do what you said you were going to do with it?

We become victims.  Poor me, I don’t have the right project. Poor me, I don’t have the right team. Poor me, I don’t have the right parents, or group, or mentors or board.

We live small. “We only have 90 students.” “We are just a two-person shop.” “Our board is not wealthy.”  “People don’t really want to support mental health.” “We aren’t education or faith-based and that’s where most of the money is given.”

Same old thinkingManaging your thinking is the hardest and most important task you have. Most of us are not even fully aware of the beliefs and perceptions we hold.  Most of these beliefs are formed by age 6 and we are raised to “play it safe.”

We set small goals so we can meet them without too much struggle.

Why is it that for some, “Everything they touch turns to gold” describes them?”  They are constantly telling themselves a different story.  Changing your mindset requires daily, repetitive work.  The neuron pathways in our mind CAN be reconfigured but it takes countless daily reps of the new beliefs we want to hold.  And it’s taking full responsibility to have the ability to make it happen.

Setting a goal, intending it to happen and then beginning. Moving past fear and doing it anyway.  Believing you can even when that little voice inside is gnawing away at you saying you’re not enough.  Staying on track. Finishing.


Taking a step.

Few of us are able to accomplish ambitious goals on our own.  For that fact, even smaller goals can seem a challenge. Taking the first step, and then the next, generally requires support.  We conform to the majority – victim-thinkers saying it can’t be done and it’s not our fault.

Here is where partners, coaches, leaders, personal trainers and mentors matter.  But it’s not the whole story.  You can recruit volunteers or paid support and it still doesn’t work.  Why? You need to be clear on how you choose to work with them.  There are 3 levels of interaction and each has different costs and results.  At the end, it’s always a question of time, money and effort – what is your investment, how much time are you willing to commit and how much work are you willing to do?

Here are the 3 levels:

1. Partner does it for you.  Generally, this is your biggest investment of dollars but your least investment of time.  For example, you hire the consultant to come in and DO the campaign.  This can have varying success depending upon how your donors feel about a “hired gun,” but it can raise dollars. Generally, it doesn’t yield deep long-term giving relationships.  Counsel is engaged in the relationships – then leaves.  Generally, long-term increased giving capacity is not achieved, but the specific campaign project may be funded.

For some goals, full on partners can’t fix it.  They can’t eat right for you (or stop eating wrong).   Partners can’t lose weight for you. (I mean – don’t you wish!)  Partners can’t replace your time with your kids. There is only one you.  Sure, while nannies and grandparents help – they are not you.


Best for this scenario is a task you can delegate to create more time for you to focus on what is important.  Hire someone to mow the lawn and use that time for something else. Hire someone to do the data entry and use that time for something else.

2. Partner does it with you.  Think of the personal trainer, soccer parent buddy you meet at the games, board leader, spouse, friend, or consultant who holds YOU accountable for creating the relationships and doing the work.  This is generally still an investment of dollars or volunteer time and much more so YOUR time. Results are greater, generally transformational and often permanent.

BUT, this is only successful if BOTH partners commit to being “All in” and doing the work.  


Here is where leadership matters – not leadership by title necessarily, but leadership by energy, support and caring.  Partners doing it with you support you by:

  • Helping you stay accountable to the actions you have said you will take.  This means finding someone who can be direct and firm.
  • Inspiring you to take another step.  We all need a cheerleader who is on our side.
  • Calling you out when you blame others instead of owning your own role in getting it done.
  • Not buying into your excuses for why you aren’t doing the work.  How many times do you cancel a coaching call or meeting because something else is more pressing?
  • Looking for and celebrating small wins with you.  We see the massive amount of work ahead and often fail to see how far we have come.
  • At times stepping in to help you get it done.  There are times we simply need them to step in and help.

My most successful clients show up for everything I do.  We may have a one-on-one, and they hardly ever miss. If I am traveling, they want an alternate time. They show up for group calls for gems they might find. They complete weekly accountability summits.  They ask for help. They do the work.  They take the advice and counsel I give them.  They succeed.

3. You do it yourself.  It is possible to figure it out on your own, create a plan on your own and implement the plan on your own.  However, New Year’s resolutions are a testimony to the success rate we have on our own. Talk to others who have accomplished what you want to do and generally you will hear, “I worked with so and so.” All power to you, but I think it’s a rare person who gets it done without help and support.

Where are you using data to hold you back?

How can you reinvent yourself for the rest of this year to embrace and accomplish something BIG?

What will make you jump out of bed and approach a day eager to attack the day’s agenda?

What results are so important to you that it is worthy of the investment of your dollars, time and effort?

Now is the time to surround yourself with the right people to take massive steps forward towards those personal and professional goals that mean the most to you.  You deserve to be all you are capable of being and the world needs you to be successful!


Invest in JOY®


Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at

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