How to get unstuck and grow your fundraising in 2022


 I know - it might feel more like Groundhog Day than a new beginning right now!

But that’s why it’s more important than ever to get clear and get focused on what you want in 2022 - both personally and professionally.

Research led by Wharton professor Katy Milkman found that “fresh starts” on specific event dates - like a birthday, an anniversary or the beginning of a new year - can enable you to be more effective at setting and achieving behavioural-changing goals.

Today I’m going to walk you though the four questions I use to help me reset and get realigned for the year ahead. Let’s dive in!

  1. What do you want to leave behind as we begin the new year? 

This could be a habit, a belief or even an identity - or maybe it's all of those wrapped into one, as you'll see with my personal example below!

This year, an important goal I’m working on is creating better boundaries around work. 

Working from home during the pandemic has made this more difficult for many of us, and I’ve found the increasingly blurred lines between work and home have had a negative impact in many areas in my life.

A related habit I developed last year is a pretty common one: checking my email and social media feeds before I go to bed in the evening. 

Every night I found myself thinking, "Oh, I'll just check in quickly to make sure there aren’t any emergencies - or maybe there’s a new development with a client, or something else that needs my attention."

The impact of that habit was detrimental in a lot of ways - what was supposed to be a quick check in often turned into an hour or two of doom scrolling, which would get me too wound up to sleep well. 

I’m a couple of weeks into actively working to break that habit, and let me tell you - it’s been tough! And here’s why: when you scratch the surface of habits like this one, chances are there is a deep seated belief and/or identity that lies beneath. 

My belief was that something urgent might be going on that needs my attention. My identity is that I'm someone who is responsive and available to my clients; that I need to email back right away so they know how important they are to me. 

These are good examples of how these things can get tangled up, and end up creating habits that actually don't serve us well - and in fact, can ultimately undermine the goals and values that are truly important to us.

     2. What do you want more of in 2022? 

When I really sat down and examined my desire to be truly present for and responsive to my colleagues and clients, I realized my behaviours were actually undermining that.

This became clear when I asked myself this second question (and here’s a hint: The answers to question #1 and question #2 are often connected!)

One thing I really want more of in 2022 is truly restorative rest. 

Rest is equally important as work - that's a new belief that I'm working on installing after many years of overwork.

By indulging in my bedtime email checking habit and not getting enough restorative rest, I was actually impacting my ability to show up and be truly present for my clients and to bring my best self to work when I was at work.

I coupled this new belief I’m working on with a new habit: I schedule in a daily workday shutdown. I set the time at which I shut down for the day into my calendar in advance, and once my laptop gets closed, work is wrapped up for the evening. 

I’ll sometimes even place a book or another lightweight object on top of it just to remind myself if I’m tempted to go on autopilot and check my email after hours (because who hasn’t mindlessly picked up their phone to look at something, only to find themselves down a social media rabbit hole an hour later?)

     3. Why is this important to you? 

There are two types of motivation that are important when it comes to habit and behavior change.

The first is extrinsic motivation - motivation which comes from outside of you. It's an external gain, like a salary increase, or a new job title. Extrinsic motivation can also be about avoiding loss, or sort of consequence we perceive.

Intrinsic motivation is more of an internal reward - it can be a sense of satisfaction, or the feeling of accomplishment when you overcome a challenge. It can be joy, or a sense of connection with others.

The most important key when it comes to changing our behaviour is to focus on intrinsic motivation. 

Here’s another helpful hint - if you're struggling to identify your intrinsic motivation, it's always connected to feelings and emotions, and how you are going to feel when you achieve the thing you want to achieve. 

For me, when I think about my goal of creating healthy boundaries at work, the internal reward is the feeling of satisfaction and connection I get when I am able to show up fully present and well rested for all the people in my life - my clients, my colleagues, my family and my friends. 

External rewards are great, and often a necessary place for us to pay attention - but if you really want to affect true change, especially tackling deeply ingrained beliefs and habits, understanding your intrinsic motivation can be a game changer.

     4. What action will you need to take to move this change forward? 

When you make the decision to and commit to taking action, you’ll create something helpful to get you unstuck… 


Think about deciding on one small, repeatable action and schedule it right into your calendar. 

And honour that commitment to yourself just like you would honour a meeting with your boss, or a top donor.

Even a tiny action that you commit to doing consistently will get you a whole lot further than 

Now you might be wondering, what does all this have to do with fundraising? 

Creating good habits and changing the behaviours that are getting in the way of being a more effective fundraiser make all the difference when it comes to getting unstuck and raising more money for your mission!

If you want to dive deeper into a specific fundraising example, and see what changes other fundraisers and nonprofit leaders like you are working on right now, you can check out the full video here. 

And be sure to let me know in the comments - what one small action are you going to take to get unstuck and raise more money in 2022? Can’t wait to hear from you!

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