I have a guilty pleasure.
I love reading personal development books – the practical business-y ones, the creative artsy ones, the warm and fuzzy inspirational ones – you name it, and I’ll read it!
You do have to take some of the advice with a grain of salt – for example, as a fundraiser, I think the only way your organization is going to “manifest more money” is through hard work, good planning, and strategic investment.
However, I’ve noticed some common patterns in my reading – if you want to be more creative, committed, or courageous in your fundraising work, here are the three habits that high performing fundraisers consistently practice.
They’re proactive, and prioritize
Yeah, yeah, yeah – we’ve all heard this a thousand times before.
But how many of us actually practice this on a consistent basis?
It’s so easy to get carried away every day by the tide of reactivity.
We wake up, we check our e-mail, and we start responding – and before we know it, another day is over.
High performing fundraisers take a more purposeful approach to their day. They decide on the most meaningful actions they can take to move the needle on their goals, and they physically block out time in their calendar to get that job done.
I always try to practice what I preach. In fact, I’m writing to you right now from a scheduled block of time – no e-mail, no phone, no multitasking.
Give it a try – no matter who you are, or how busy your organization, I guarantee you that you can find some time to block out in your day to focus on your most pressing priorities.
Even if you start small, and schedule just an hour or two a week to make thank you calls, or book face to face donor meetings, your efforts will be rewarded – and then you’ll feel motivated to schedule in your priorities more often!
They actively seek opportunities to learn and grow
High performing fundraisers are constantly seeking out ways to develop and improve in their fundraising practice.
They have a sense of curiosity about the world. Not only do they want to develop their technical fundraising skills – they’re also actively interested in what makes other people tick.
Even the most senior high performing fundraiser works to cultivate a sense of curiosity – they understand the only way to keep growing is to take on new challenges that push them outside of their comfort zone.
There are countless ways to be more proactive in seeking out opportunities to learn and grow – starting a reading list, connecting with other non-profit professionals at different stages of their careers, attending a conference or workshop…
It’s the perfect time to design your learning plan for the year. What do you still need to learn, and how are you going to do it?
They put their health and well-being first
There’s a favourite analogy that pops up in a lot of personal development books and articles.
When you’re on an airplane, and the cabin pressure changes, the flight attendant always advises you to secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping others.
Burnout is a huge problem in our sector. When you combine passionate people working on urgent issues they care deeply about, and throw in our sector’s short-sighted tendency to under resource fundraising, it’s a recipe for disaster.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
High performing fundraisers take care of themselves first, and put on their own oxygen mask before helping others.
Make sure you’re practicing good self care basics. Get a little more sleep. Take time to exercise/be active. Develop a hobby outside of work. Spend time with your loved ones. Try to eat in a way that makes you feel more energized.
Finally, see habit #1 – prioritize your self care, and schedule blocks of time into your calendar to do these things!
What habits do you see high performing fundraisers practice regularly? Are their any new habits you are trying to get into to be more effective in your work? Do you have a favourite book or resource that’s changed the way you work? I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.