The daily habit that makes all the difference

July 29, 2015

AntiquePhoneEver attended a conference, or paid for a course, and gotten so excited about the potential for your organization…but then failed to act on what you’d learned? Maybe you started your organization’s monthly giving program…and now it’s just an option tacked on to your year-end appeal. Or maybe you even took my Power of Thank You stewardship course — but never got around to actually rewriting your thank you letters or applying the program.

Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Research points to only 5% of conference attendees actually acting on what they’ve learned!

For just about all of us, the idea of winning a “fundraising lottery” like your own ice-bucket challenge is pretty appealing. And it doesn’t involve the day to day “rinse and repeat” work necessary to building real donor relationships.

So, what’s a quick and easy shift you can you make to ensure that you do follow through on implementing those tactics that you know will make your organization stronger — and keep your donors giving?

In The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, Kelly McGonigal says that one strategy is to 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 also advises us to use a “daily rule” to help us end that debate that often talks us right out of our goals. 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 — with clients and Simple Development Systems members alike — 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 of spending 15-30 minutes on the phone calling donors. Just to say thank you.

For years we’ve heard that it takes 21 days to make a habit. Turns out that’s a bit of a myth. Commit to these daily calls, come hell or high water, for three months. Put it on your calendar and start tomorrow. And then let me hear from you.

Interested in learning more about how you can create a culture of gratitude in your workplace that enables everyone, from your CEO to your board to your program staff to your volunteers to share in the thanking process? Download my free guide, Your Donor Love Toolkit. And look for a return of Power of Thank You | Basics & More™, the original ‘attitude of gratitude’ course.

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