Fundraising resilience – you can increase it
Occasionally when fundraisers ask for advice in how to secure more major gifts or very valuable partnerships, I have the impression they are looking for one big move. When we’re not experiencing the results we want, it is tempting to believe there is one powerful step that would take us to where we want to be, to close the gap. However unrealistic this is, the power of the instinct is strong, which is why adverts for get rich quick schemes (or get healthy or happy quick schemes) are to be found in the ad section of any newspaper.
In truth, you know that the successes you are most proud of have been achieved through numerous small actions and practices, over a long period. These hundreds of ‘2mm shifts’ compound to create an entirely new level of skill or fundraising result.
For more than a decade I have made it my habit to interview people who get consistently great fundraising results. Their personality traits vary hugely. But one thing has been consistent, and this is their ability to follow through, that is, to stick to what is important over the long-term.
Professor Angela Duckworth refers to this quality as ‘grit’. She has spent decades studying how very high achievers succeed, interviewing of world class athletes, artists and business-people. And she has found the same trait crops up in every area. She explains ‘what we accomplish in the marathon of life depends tremendously on our grit – our passion and perseverance for long-term goals’.
In her book Grit and 6 minute TED talk, Grit – the key to success Prof Duckworth shows that though in theory most people would agree this quality is important, in practice, when we see someone who is getting brilliant results, the normal thing is to assume their ‘talent’ is the primary factor in their success. She agrees that some talent is always part of the answer, but the side effect of focusing too much on the exciting mystery of ‘talent’ is that we rarely pay enough attention to the importance of grit in any success story.
Why being gritty makes such a big difference
You may be thinking that making your fundraising behaviour more gritty doesn’t sound much fun. Actually, research shows that grittier people are not only more successful, they are also more happy. Acting this way means giving more but you also feel more fulfilled.
The other important conclusion I took from Prof Duckworth’s research is that, contrary to what some of us have been led to believe, your level of grit is not fixed from birth. Excitingly, we can all improve how passionate and persevering we are.
I’ve found that fundraisers on my Major Gifts Mastery Programme secure more major gifts not only because they learn more effective fundraising strategies, but also because they learn to operate in a more gritty way. For example, taking more bold action to secure meetings with donors or confidently tackle the internal challenges, especially from the very start of your work day, becomes normal.
Doing more of these things inevitably leads to relationships with more donors, more asks and more gifts. And once you have proved this is possible for six months, albeit with the advanced fundraising strategies and the power of the group and your coach to help you succeed, fundraising in a more gritty way after the programme also becomes easier because you have proved it is both possible and very rewarding.
One trick that increases income
One of several reasons that gritty fundraisers have so much drive is that they feel their work connects them to something greater than themselves. Even if this was not strong in the beginning (interestingly, it often wasn’t), the longer they stay, they increasingly feel that they’re in part driven by their purpose. It’s no longer primarily about them.
How can you strengthen this power if currently you don’t feel it? I have found that simple, small shifts can dramatically improve both the drive you feel and your consequent results. For example, the book The small BIG reports that when a telephone fundraising team shared stories about their cause at the beginning of their shift, they secured more than twice the number of donations over the phone compared to when they got straight to work. Not bad for an activity that takes just ten minutes.
Would you like to raise more major gifts in 2016? To apply for your free Major Donors coaching session, (normal price £95) click here.
On July 27, 2016 / Uncategorized
‘What I love about the Major Gifts Mastery Programme is it’s so practical. I’ve seen loads of monetary value come from what we learned, including a gift of £200,000 from a trust that came about because of the learnings in the course. If you want to raise more money, I’d urge you to do the Programme.’
Paul McKenzie, Head of Major Giving and Corporate Partnerships, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Rob's outstanding pitch training helped me secure a partnership worth £380,000 over three years. One of the crucial things he helped me do was to better understand the psychology of who I needed to convince, and use this to craft my influencing strategies, structure and stories to help them say YES. If you need to win more partnerships, I would absolutely recommend you get on Rob's training.
Karen Arkell, Senior Officer, Corporate Partnerships, Teach First
'We recently had a pitch we just had to win. I'm absolutely clear that what we learned from Rob helped us get the deal, which is a partnership that's going to raise £1 million. Rob is better at helping you influence your donor to get the gift than anyone I've met.
Ben Swart, Head of Corporate New Business, NSPCC
Rob's exceptional training has taken our programme to the next level. One example was a colleague re-connecting with a lapsed donor on the phone, resulting in a £100k+ gift; his first in four years. I would absolutely recommend Rob's training programme as an invaluable investment for any fundraising team.
Victoria Stephenson, Head of Major Donors, UNICEF UK
Following the course, Major Gift Fundraisers at the NSPCC increased gift income by 29%
Citation by UK Skills National Training Award
We're currently involved in our largest ever Campaign, with a target of £500 million, so we've invested in the best training available. Rob's courses have been an essential part of our annual King's Knowledge learning programme for the last five years, because he continues to help us get outstanding results.
Gemma Peters, Director of Development, King's College London
I’ve found the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme hugely helpful already. It’s helped me in so many ways, but as an example, I applied one of Rob’s pitching techniques and it completely wowed the panel, and has resulted in a partnership worth over £100,000.
Kieran Cornwall, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, Cystic Fibrosis Trust
I was on the pitch team to win a partnership worth £1,000,000. I was determined to pitch to the best of my ability. Rob helped me present with confidence, persuasiveness and enthusiasm, enabling me to connect with the pitch panel – and we won the partnership.
Kirsty Lawson, Corporate Account Team Manager, (Head of) at Alzheimer’s Society
Rob showed my corporate fundraising team lots of excellent new business strategies. The techniques made a made a MASSIVE difference to our financial results, including helping to win a partnership worth £2 million
Jess Coombs, Head of Corporate Fundraising, Teenage Cancer Trust and formerly at Action for Children