Want different fruit- look at the roots?

by Marcy Heim on February 27, 2019

Don’t like the fruit? Look at the roots.

Are you and your board disappointed with your results? Are you struggling to get together on a plan for growth? Not sure what you can raise?  Wish you had more time with your family? Wish the Board was more ‘on board’? Weren’t working evenings? Down to that number on the scale?apple tree

These are all fruits.

And we spend a great deal of time looking at them, talking about them, and analyzing them.

There are not enough of them. They are not big enough. They are not red enough.  And on and on.

Recently one of my Dream, Act, Achieve coaching clients shared a financial spreadsheet for the board. It was a page of numbers…and a projected 13% increase to allow for a needed hire and other infrastructure. The board wanted reassurance that raising this increase was really doable.

Here’s the big problem.  A TREE CUT OFF FROM ITS ROOTS WILL DIE.  If something infects the roots, it will decline.

Instead – Focus on the roots that grew the fruit. It’s your actions that lead to your results. It’s your inner world (mindset) that brings success in your outer world (results).

focus roots

What if under these numbers you draw the direct connection to the roots that are needed to grow this fruit?


To achieve these results requires the following actions:

1. An increase of X many more in-person visits by the development staff to engage X new major gifts of $X and above.

2. 100% meaningful giving by the Board to demonstrate their leadership and passion for the mission.

3. X Board calls to connect a prospective giver to the development team.

4. X communications out to all current donors so they continue to see the impact of their giving

5. X phone calls to set up appointments.

6. X phone calls by staff, board and volunteers to express appreciation for gifts of time and money.

7. X sponsorships for success at the next event.

8. Canceling X event to free up staff time for more productive activity.

9. Setting clear priorities and giving options.

10. X number of facility tours with current and prospective givers.

And so on….

My point?  If you only show the board numbers, that is what they will focus on.  What you focus on you grow – BUT – you are only giving them part of the story.  The focus must be on the actions needed to produce the results.

These “roots” are written right into the spreadsheet with the numbers.  It’s a package.

Then the board understands what is really needed for these results.  Are they all willing to invest? Do they understand the staff time needed to make all the calls?

When reviewing an event, do we lay out only numbers?  So many tables, money goals?  Or do we lay out the number of staff hours in set up and arrangements needed, the number of conversations each board member needs to have at the event, the number of phone calls by the board and staff prior to the event to invite key current and prospective givers, time collecting silent auction prizes, etc etc.

You won’t have the fruit you want until you get clear about what’s needed in the roots.

This also applies to your personal “fruits.”  What are the roots that lead to the fruits you don’t like? These are all situations I am coaching right now….Current Fruit and Change needed in Roots (mindset)

1. Current fruit – missing time with family. A leader/manager picking up work for an unproductive staff member to avoid enforcing performance expectations and difficult performance conversations and missing evenings with family.  Root change – respect yourself. You are worthy of high performing team members. You don’t need to cover for poor staff performance to be loved.

2. Current fruit – overweight, tired.  Placing work and personal activity over buying and preparing better meals. Skipping walks and workouts. Root change – You are worthy of your own self-love and making self-care a priority.

3. Current fruit – Overwhelmed. Letting others via email and text set your agenda instead of doing your more important tasks first. Root change – Set times to look at email, don’t start your day with it. List your top 3 items and do them first. You can set boundaries and still be liked and respected.

So, from now on, dig deeper and discover what is at the ‘root’ of your challenges.  I promise you will enjoy the ‘fruit’ so much more!

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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