I was at the doctor last week, following up on some fluid checks as one must after age forty, and despite a Holiday of many sugar cookies, I had continued the positive momentum against my junky metabolism for the second straight year. Am I bikini season ready? Not quite yet. But better than last year.
Can the New Year be a spark for transformative change? I used to believe that anything is possible. But now I think, probably not, for most of us, with stretched resources and human limitations. The best most of us can manage is some better practices and continuous improvements, doing better each week, each month, and each year.
And that’s really okay. Doing it a bit better than last time is a worthy professional and personal goal, and if you do this, and nothing else this year, I expect good things will happen. Here is what I am thinking about:
- Perfect the Fundamentals. I love fundraising disruption as much as the next guy, but what about good application of best practices as a place to focus this year? Before you go blowing up the paradigm again after reading some thought piece on UK fundraising twitter campaigns, let’s all please commit to the consistent, the repeatable and the simple. If you are asking your board development committee to do more than three things, for example, that’s probably too complicated. Keep it simple. Develop a strong plan, and stick to that plan. Do it better, each and every time.
- Accentuate the Programming. I was with a group of performing arts professionals recently, and I asked them, “In ten words, what are you raising money for in 2017?” And the answer was sputters and terror. It is a difficult question, I grant you, for most of us, but especially so when we are so caught up in our fundraising world, that we don’t seek out the amazing and beautiful things happening in the day-to- day of non-profit life. Let’s talk to donors more about our good work, and how their gift makes a singular difference. Got a new elephant? Talk to donors about it. A new Barber of Seville? Talk to donors about it. A new nacho machine? You get the idea. Donors want inspiration. What does that mean for your fundraising efforts? Get in there with your program people. Hang out in the lunch room with the staff who wear name tags and uniforms. Develop trusting relationships with the people doing the actual work in your organizations. Bring them some bagels. Interesting things will happen.
- Seek out the Terrestrial. The internet is lovely, and I enjoy staying connected on the socials as much as anyone, but this year I am going to better connect with actual human beings more often. For me, the easiest meet up is a coffee appointment. Offer me a 20 oz. Dark Roast, and I will take your meeting. But I’ve done less of that the last couple of years, with increasing travel and family obligations. So I will do better, and spend time with more of you in person, talking, networking and sharing fellowship. As an example, I interact all the time online with my friend and colleague Steven Shattuck, the Resident Brainiac of Bloomerang, but I don’t think we’ve ever actually hung out in person, even though we both live in the same city. So I am going to fix that.
What else? Stay Nimble. Have Fun. Ring the Bell when you win. Ask.