Happiness, habits, and major gift fundraising

publication date: Nov 13, 2014
author/source: Amy Eisenstein

Are you as happy as you could be at work?

Do you have good work habits?

What if I told you that there are two strategies that will result in leading a happier life AND excelling at raising major gifts?

It’s true!  The strategies are:

  1. Think happy thoughts
  2. Build better habits 

Happy thoughts

Meaningful work, happiness, and productivity are all interconnected. 

In other words -- if you’re doing meaningful work you’ll be happier, and if you’re happier you’ll be more productive.

As you know, sometimes even the most meaningful work can be stressful, tedious, and discouraging.

One survey on happiness at work showed that people who work in caregiving or direct service are 75 per cent more likely to be happy. As fundraisers, we are not always on the front lines, but we are pretty close, which has got to count, at least a little.

So how can we change to make ourselves as happy as the people on the front lines and be more productive?

It starts with positive thinking

I am a true believer in the power of positive thinking.

If you think you can, you can. This is not a case of “wishful thinking” – there is science behind it.

What if when asking for a major gift, you simply expected the best outcome, instead of assuming the worst?  How might you act differently?

Happier people are more generous

Another reason to think happy thoughts is that happy people give more to charity.  As a fundraiser that is pretty important information.

Harvard Business School produced a working paper called Feeling Good About Giving, which showed: “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier.”  

Incredible!  The more you give, the happier you are, and the happier you are, the more you give.  How awesome is that?

Build better habits

According to current research, in order to break an old habit and create a new one, you need to find a reward to help you feel good about whatever new habit you are trying to establish.

Make a habit of meeting with donors

Working from their desks is a bad habit of many development directors. How can you have relationships with your donors from behind your desk? You may feel stuck at your desk and overwhelmed with work. But being stuck at your desk is only a habit or work pattern — and it can be broken. Get out and start meeting with donors. Once you make getting out and meeting with donors a top priority, that will become your habit. It’s not easy, but the long-term payoff is huge.

Properly train your board members

Recruiting and training board members without any expectation of fundraising is another habit to that needs to be broken. It’s something I run into all the time. Often times board members haven’t been recruited properly or trained, and yet are expected to raise funds. I strongly encourage you to establish a new habit. Change the culture of your board and organization by starting to recruit and train your board members properly. This board member expectation form might help.

We will go into much more depth at my session in November at AFP Congress in Toronto. I hope to see you there.

Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is a respected author, speaker, and fundraising consultant, as well as the owner of Tri Point Fundraising, a full-service nonprofit consulting firm. Her specialty is simplifying the fundraising process for her followers and clients. www.tripointfundraising.com

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