Optimistic Reaction

by Marcy Heim on January 11, 2018

How about these “resolutions”?

1. Give thanks that your life is exactly as it is.

2. Decide that 2018 will be the happiest year of your life yet.

3. Every day, follow your heart and instincts down new paths.


What will the New Year bring? Development plan in full swing? Digging into the year-end giving data with a vengeance? (Is it all even recorded yet?) Bet you are all about planning and plotting now. Sure, we want to learn from the past and set “ambitious yet realistic expectations.”

Yet when we look back, for all our planning, each day brings uncertainty.

  • hurricanes and blizzards
  • emails and conversations that we need to interpret
  • unexpected BIG checks that just “come in the door!”
  • the first grandbaby’s due date

There’s a dramatic shift in our fundraising and life when we acknowledge that much in life IS uncertain. BUT what is CERTAIN is that it’s always our choice how we embrace, react to and manage the uncertainty. “Can do!” or devastated.

Do you tend to have a pattern in how you react? Are you aware of what your first response is? Laughter? Anger? Frustration?

Optimism is a game changer.

Optimism is defined as the ability of an individual to recognize, discern, and perceive that a positive outcome can occur, no matter what their current circumstances are at that moment.

Read that again…. no matter what their current circumstances are at that moment.

Consider these “circumstances”…

  • Flight 2645 has been delayed 2 hours.
  • John canceled his appointment with you to handle some “urgent business.”
  • Mary left a message – has questions on her Letter of Agreement.
  • Alice didn’t give her year-end gift this December.
  • Your dear friend is in town and can do lunch.

Does this mean you actually leave 2 hours later? Does this mean John has changed his mind about his gift? Does he really have “urgent business”? Is Mary having second thoughts? Is Alice unhappy with your organization or you? Could you duck out for lunch with your friend or is there just “to much to do?”

We Become What We Think About!
Earl Nightingale, the Strangest Secret

“Your mindset matters. It can dictate your ability to receive a positive opportunity and outcome when it presents itself so don’t miss your blessing just because you have already given up! Your breakthrough may be just around the proverbial corner” says coach and past NFL football star, Jason Carthen.

In fact, when you DO finally meet with ‘John’ he shares he’s interested in endowing his annual project. His “urgent business” was with someone who just did this sort of giving and told him all about it. He wants to leave this sort of legacy too. BINGO!

For Smart Fundraisers Uncertainty Demands Optimism

1. Be certain you embrace this incredibly positive economic outlook with your top donors.

Apply laser-sharp focus on your top donors based on capacity, interest and readiness. NOTHING takes priority over this work. See them. Talk to them. Don’t guess what they are thinking or how this strong market is impacting them.

2. Be certain that making an impact, doing something meaningful, MORE motivates your donor than the tax deduction.

Sure, some donors will come in and say, “My accountant says I should give this much away.” But in my experience, and the research supports this, many MAJOR donors are not able to deduct their entire gift – it is only one piece of the experience. It is not the main motivator.

3. Be certain you are engaged in RELATIONSHIPS, not transactions.

Meeting your metrics? Great…but has it become mechanical? Are you authentic? How do you make your donor feel? Is your visit just a “check-off” on your list for their annual participation? What are you doing to sincerely connect them to your work? Are you using partners in your visits?

4. Be certain there will be surprises and most of them GOOD!

These will be positive and not-so-welcome. “Oh no, not this!” is just a step on the way to “next time.” In other words, every time you are uncertain is your opportunity to react with optimism and gain a new experience to have at the ready for the next time. Opening the wrong door often leads to the right door!

See the bigger picture – beyond that uncertainty.

Our days are made up of moment to moment situations. Opening our email is a crap-shoot. It can be amazing or (you can allow it to) ruin your whole day!
No matter what comes at you in the cue, see the larger picture. Sure, make your plans…including the blank lines for those unexpected twists and turns.

No one situation defines you, your relationships with your donors, your giving results or your personal joy. Unleash your actions and reactions with optimism and see this New Year explode with joy and success!

Thank you for bringing me along on your journey! Cheers to you and your amazing 2018!

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 KK@MarcyHeim.com


Leave a Comment

Anti-Spam Quiz:

Previous post:

Next post: