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PRO TIP | Success by mistakes

publication date: Jan 12, 2022
author/source: Ann Rosenfield

You may remember that book series and show "The Magic School Bus." The quirky teacher who led these trips always had a motto - "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"

That is a perfect summary of what your approach should be right now. There has never been a better time to be a fundraiser. This is a rare moment of enormous opportunity for you.

Take chances

We are in a period of enormous flux. While that can feel scary, it is a once-in-a-generation chance to try new things. With many parts of our lives still uncertain, this is a perfect time to test a new idea, try a new event, bring more social media into your work. Fundraising is generally succeeding these days so this is your perfect opportunity to test an idea. For example, this is the perfect moment to consider turning your longstanding, flagship event into a hybrid one. This is a great chance to try that direct response idea you have always wanted to try. The sky is your limit so go for it.

Make mistakes

Since this is a time of great upheaval, you can make mistakes with much less risk that previously. When trying a new idea, bear in mind cost, time, and ability to pivot. If a new idea is relatively low in cost and time and relatively easy to suspend or stop, give it a try. The late great fundraiser, Tony Elischer, used to note that if you aren't trying 10% new ideas every year, your program is getting stale. In this time of rapid change and short attention spans, you have the perfect moment to try new things without as much risk as before COVID.

Get messy

We live in an engaged world. The donor public expect to collaborate, not just contribute. Program participants are looking for collaboration not top down approaches. We have been living in a very top-down approach in the charity sector. In a social media world of loose organization, the more you can work to collaborate, the better your fundraising and your impact. 

By following this approach, you can have great impact today and set the stage for a better tomorrow for your charity. All you have to do is take chances, make mistakes and get messy.

Ann Rosenfield has worked as a fundraiser through an earthquake, fires, bomb threats, and SARS. She promises you can get through this.

Cover photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

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