Wanna Do EVERYTHING Better?

by Marcy Heim on August 22, 2018

Do you agree there’s magic in Three’s? number 3

The research will support you on this.  Going to the store for three things?  You say them to yourself. Ok. Four?  Probably need to write a list. There is something “doable” and memorable about three. This is important to understand in both your major gift development work…and your life.  And you know I want BOTH to ROCK for you!

Why is this practice of three important?

  1. Clarity – we can take it in verbally and in writing.
  2. Priority – what REALLY is the first priority?  The ole’ “urgent” vs “important” conundrum.
  3. Mindset peace – managing three of anything does not feel overwhelming for most.

While this applies to EVERYTHING you want to do better, let me share three (of course) examples of applying the Practice of Three:

  1. Year-end appeals (it’s time to be planning these!)
  2. Major donor relationships (where your transformative giving happens!)
  3. Your day, Your week, Your life (where you get your so-important personal JOY!)

Clarity, priority & mindset

Year-end appeals (it’s time to be planning these!)

It’s that time of year. Start now in planning and creating a successful year-end appeal process.  This includes the direct mail, email, social media and sometimes annual fund personal visits to inspire the most generosity during the historically most generous time of year.

3 messages

How can the Practice of Three help you?

1. Create your Three KEY MESSAGES about your impact, complete with a story for each.  Don’t go wandering off from these in ANY communication or toss in a last-minute additional idea. FOCUS! When anyone – donors, board, recipients, volunteer, community – thinks about you, what immediately comes to their minds?  Sure, change up the format to fit the delivery method, but don’t waver from the THREE key messages.

2. Create your Three (or multiples of 3) touches.  How many total messages you send depends on what you can manage well, given your unique circumstances.

3. In all your messages, are you vomiting information on them?  Be sure each letter, email, text, post has three, and only three total “things” going on.  For example, “update story, opportunity to invest, clear ask.”

Major donor relationships (where your transformative giving happens!)

Let’s look at three components of creating high-value Major Donor Relationships. 

1. Marcy’s Major Donor visits

Prior to each visit consider what three goals you want to accomplish on the visit.  These might be 1) build rapport, appreciate and learn something about your giver, 2) deliver up to three key messages about your organization’s impact and options for investment and 3) set up a clear next step.

2. Marcy’s Major Donor letter

For my 20+ successful years personally raising major (5-7 figure) gifts, I structured every correspondence with three elements. These were 1) sincere appreciation, 2) copy around options for them in terms of dollars required to accomplish a certain impact and 3) the next action for them to look forward to.

3. Marcy’s 3-sentence ask

Since the Fundraising and Development Conference was launched at the University of Wisconsin 25 years ago, I’ve been teaching my 3-sentence ask.  (Go here for a download of the worksheet).  In a nutshell, you create three sentences; You have (a sincere compliment about them and their relationship with you). You understand (their connection to this ask). Would you consider a gift of ($____) for (project/purpose).

Your day, Your week, Your life (where you get your so-important personal JOY!)

Overwhelmed? Most of us have moments of this daily. Managing it requires many practices and the simplicity of three can be a major step towards enjoying the journey of life more.

3 keys

1. Your Day

Your three steps…1) Begin your day with STATING LOUDLY, “I CREATE MY LIFE!” This declares that you are taking personal responsibility for what happens in your day. You are not a victim of circumstances.  Life does not happen TO you. YOU are in the driver’s seat.  Then, 2) What will move your most important goals forward today? What three actions must you take to smile at day’s end? DO these. And finally, 3) Give thanks each day for all that is good in your life.

2. Your Week

My VIP clients all complete my 7-Day Summit each week and have an accountability call with me. They credit this practice as the single most critical piece of their success in accomplishing both personal and professional goals.  Within this summit, we lay out the three top priorities for the next week in addition to exploring both mindset and methods factors that contributed to the week they experienced.

3. Your Life

They are those who make the simple complex (but oh are they busy) and those who make the complex simple.  Truly it is peeling away the layers of needless jargon, comparison, and getting caught up in the drama of the day that leaves room for the white space where you can enjoy your life.  Creating three simple ideas about what makes your life ideal sets this as an intention.  Our words become our thoughts and our thoughts become our feelings which in turn dictate how we take the action that leads to our results. Whew! A long journey to get something done!

My wish for you is to apply the Practice of Three imperfectly.  Keep giving it a whirl and you will discover that it sets clear intentions for your work and life.  “Everything” is NOT due today.  “Everyone” is NOT expecting something from you.  “Everybody” is NOT wanting one thing more from you.

“Today before Tomorrow.”  Enjoy this great work and life we “GET” to lead!

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

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