Perfect is the enemy of good fundraising

If you’re a Type A fundraiser, please raise your hand.

Wow…there’re a lot of you!

I’m not surprised – there’s something about fundraising, and all the attendant planning, organizing, project managing and analyzing that appeals to us (I get excited just typing those words!).

Of course, this notion of Type A and Type B personalities is a bit simplistic – but I’ve noticed that many of us who identify as Type As do so loudly and proudly.

While our Type A tendencies keep many elements of our fundraising growing and moving forward, they can have a significant downside (apart from driving our more laid back loved ones around the bend):


Here are a few signs that striving for perfection may be getting in the way of being an effective fundraiser – and how to overcome that Type A tendency to get everything EXACTLY RIGHT ALL THE TIME.

Fear of [email protected]%&!*#

Failure. That’s the real F word for most of us with perfectionist tendencies.

But our fear of failure is likely holding us back from taking important risks that can lead to great fundraising success.

Avoiding failure can also get in the way of innovation, and trying new techniques and approaches, leaving us with stagnant fundraising programs, and flat-lining results.

Since Type A personalities love goals, why not put goals to use to help you take a few more calculated risks?

Next time you’re updating your fundraising plan (of course you have a fundraising plan, you’re Type A!) add in some measurable goals that are specifically related to trying something new, and taking a risk.

Perhaps your perfectionist tendencies get in the way of just picking up the phone and thanking your donors until you have absolutely ideal conditions – then your goal will be to phone XX number of donors within the next X weeks.

Give it a try – set a measurable, time restricted goal related to an important fundraising activity you may be avoiding because you aren’t perfectly prepared, perfectly informed, or perfectly comfortable.

Set clear boundaries

When I first started writing this weekly blog, I spent a lot of time struggling with my perfectionist tendencies.

I’d sweat over my writing for hours, nitpicking this and that, reworking sections until they were just right.

It didn’t take me long to realize that kind of behaviour is simply not sustainable.

These days, I set myself clear, time limited boundaries (and hey, there’s nothing Type As love more than some good, solid boundaries!).

In fact, I have a timer going on my desk right now – and once that goes off, I’m finished. No more wordsmithing, fine tuning or rewriting allowed!

Ready or not, it’s time to ship

If you’re a fan of Seth Godin, you might already be familiar with the idea of shipping.

In a nutshell, it refers to the idea of getting your work out the door. To focus your efforts and energies on things that matter and cut out the stalling and distractions.

Book that donor meeting. Send that proposal. Pick up the phone and make that thank you call. Ship it!

Don’t succumb to the temptation to proof read your writing for the eleventeenth time. Don’t avoid making that donor call because you're worried that you may not know the exact, most perfect thing to say in all possible permutations of the conversation.

I know you can find the courage in your already perfect heart to overcome your hesitation and your reservations to trust yourself – and get shipping!

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