We all know the sound of Joy when we hear it, that unedited yelp of delight when something wonderful happens, like for me recently when my Indiana Hoosiers took down Kentucky in the NCAA tourney. It is always wonderful to hear people let go with unbridled joy, too rare in our curated world of emoji and self mockery.
Even more surprising is to hear the Joyful Noise in a Fundraising Office, a place too often of Dour Seriousness, Dark Suits, and No Fun Allowed. Want to see a place where Fun came to die? Visit the central development office of your typical University. And then go home and hug your cats close to shake off the despair.
And so even better than seeing Kentucky lose was hearing a Corporate Gift Officer at a client office yell, “Hell Yeah!” after receiving a call about a pending sponsor saying “Yes” to an upgraded $20,000 commitment. She apologized for interrupting my meeting to share the good news.
Never apologize for sharing good fundraising news, Dear Friends. Some of you know the Hatch High Five, bestowed upon such moments. I am almost accessible to my clients day or night, with one rule. Only call me after 9pm if there is GOOD NEWS. Interrupt my evening with a Win each and every time my friends. $20,000 on a Monday for a new corporate commitment? Hell Yes, indeed.
Why don’t we know how to celebrate victory in our fundraising efforts? Our work is very challenging already, so why won’t we stop and high five ourselves now and again? How bad is this getting in our business? A friend of mine was sacked recently despite a record month of sales. A guy I know secured a $1million commitment for a performing arts organization two weeks before being asked to seek employment elsewhere. What is going on here?
- Our goals are so vast that small wins don’t equate to a great deal. I see this all the time and it is positively deadly for your staff retention. Your people want to do well and, whatever the goal is, wins should be celebrated daily, weekly, quarterly. One place I know has a bell that staff members get to ring when a win is secured. It is a lively place to work and people tend to stay, despite challenging goals and high expectations. Fundraising is about creating momentum. Wins create momentum.
- It is all about the Donor and not Us as Fundraisers. I get the Sacred Rule of this, that we as fundraisers need to remain so sincerely humble because philanthropic investment is about the Donor and not Us. And I think this is absolute crap. Our job is to connect the donors to our good work, to share opportunities and to Ask for investment. And when we do all of that well with good results, we should celebrate the achievement.
- Fundraising is so Challenging that Winning never crosses anyone’s mind. This is great deal of the challenge of retaining staff. We simply do not know how to win in fundraising. Individual donations are up but sponsorship sales are down. And so we lose. Annual fund is on target but subscription sales are falling flat. And so we lose. The donor said, “Yes” to our $100,000 ask but only for $65,000. And so we lose. And on it goes.
By celebrating wins big and small with our fundraising team, we build our people up in the best way, by acknowledging effort and results. High five your fundraisers. Start each weekly meeting acknowledging individual successes and small victories. Condition your team to Win. Share success with your board and fundraising volunteers. Brag a bit on your team.
Tomorrow’s challenges will be there. Celebrate today. Ring the Bell.