The Number One Habit of Successful Fundraisers

February 23, 2017

Happy Birthday Boobaloo Princess!

Today is my daughter Abigail’s birthday. Her grandfather called her Boobaloo. My grandmother referred to her as Snickerfritz. And her dad calls her Abs-a-Dabs-a-Doo.

But whatever the moniker, she is a gem. At age 18, Abbey enrolled in the US Marine Corps (triggering every mother’s deepest, darkest fears). But my loyal readers were right there by my side, with reassurance and encouragement. Abbey made it out, better and stronger than ever.

Next month, Abbey graduates from Drexel University. To date, she’s been accepted to Villanova Law and Temple Law. She’s made it through college while juggling three jobs, as well as volunteer work. She recently signed on to be a CASA mentor.

Here’s the thing about Abbey: she has a strong sense of self. Lately, recognizing that she’ll need to ramp it up even more for law school, she’s started picking up self-improvement books.

She started with Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Stephen Covey’s classic covers the importance of prioritizing the activities that are important but not urgent in lieu of more urgent (and less important) tasks. As my coach might say, “Are you working in your business or on it?” In our work, what it comes down to is this: Are you putting out fires or are you working on growing relationships?

Be honest with yourself about that one. It’ll only help you see where you are (and maybe where you need to be).

Abbey’s smart in more ways than one. She knows the importance of daily habits.

Make your daily habit gratitude.

In another great read on Abbey’s list, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, Kelly McGonigal explains that we should think not in terms of progress, but in terms of commitment.

“When people who have taken a positive step toward meeting a goal – for example exercising, studying, or saving money – are asked, “How much progress do you feel you have made on your goal?” they are more likely to then do something that conflicts with that goal, like skip the gym the next day, hang out with friends instead of studying, or buy something expensive. In contrast, people who are asked, “How committed do you feel to your goal?” are not tempted by the conflicting behavior. A simple shift in focus leads to a very different interpretation of their own actions — “I did that because I wanted to,” not “I did that, great, now I can do what I really want!”

You’re committed to your mission, but are you committed to funding your mission? There’s a critical difference, you know.

McGonigal advises us to use a “daily rule” to help us end that debate that so often dissuades us from moving in the right direction. Is there a daily rule that you can live with that will bring you closer to your fundraising goals? One rule I’ve encouraged for years (we’re talking since 2006, people) is to commit to a daily “gratitude habit.” Every morning, (before you check your email or voicemail – but not before you’ve had your coffee ;-), make it a habit out of spending 15-30 minutes on the phone calling your donors. Why?

Just to say thank you.

For years, we’ve heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit for the long haul. But in reality, it turns out that’s a bit of a myth. I say…commit to these daily calls, come hell or high water, for three months straight. Jot it down on your calendar and begin tomorrow, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And then, reach out. I want to hear from you.

What habits are you embracing to ramp up your fundraising this year, [First Name]? These little things can inspire some huge results. Don’t underestimate them. Earlier this year, we featured a filled-to-GoToWebinar capacity training that you may have missed out on. If you’d like to catch it now, you still can. You’ll get an overview of where philanthropic dollars really come from, so you can better plan your year, and you’ll discover the habits of my most successful students! Click here to watch.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Zach Shefska February 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Pamela, first and foremost, happy birthday to your daughter!

Second, thank you for posting this great reminder that a little gratitude goes a long way. There is an awesome book by Charles Duhigg titled, “The Power of Habit” which reinforces your message above, definitely worth a read!

Pamela Grow February 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Thank you, Zach! I’ll pick that one up. I’m just now reading “Thank & Grow Rich: A 30-Day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy” by Pam Grout and it, too, is a great reminder.

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