Getting to 90% Might be Good Enough

June 11, 2021

I admit it. I like to move at a good pace. Perhaps it is my Attention Deficit Disorder, and that I get bored quickly. I guess it is just my working style. But, I have encountered others who are the exact opposite. They labor over tasks. In a former life, if I asked a colleague for a report and gave her a week to do it, she would consume the entire week creating the report. If I asked her for an immediate turnaround (the same day), I would substantially get the same report as earlier. It made me think. I never asked for a report well in advance of needing it.

The same goes for fundraising copy (or case writing). I worked with a brilliant writer decades ago. She managed to get the Direct Mail piece 90% completed in less than a week and then spent the next four weeks on the last 10%. Needless to say, that was a source of frustration for me. I have to wonder if all of the extra efforts to get the letter from 90% to 100% was actually worth it. At that time, the mailing list wasn’t sophisticated enough to do some A/B testing, so I would never know. But, anecdotally, I would assume that the extra time spent did not pay off (pun intended).

June is the time of year that many organizations have their Annual General Meetings and present their year in review (some do Impact Reports, others do Annual Reports, but you get the gist). It is usually a massive undertaking for the Marketing/Communications team and often has dozens of eyes reading for errors and many opinions as far as direction. Even after all of that, I would venture to say that most organizations have some sort of typo/error in their report. That is fine — just own it.

So many times, we, as fundraisers, think in a binary world. All or nothing. Either we get the gift, or we don’t. I believe that this is a disservice to our profession. As I mentioned before in my solicitation techniques, getting less than what you asked for is still a good result. As a matter of fact, I think most of us would be over the moon if we went through life being 90% successful.

I realize that this blog may shock some of you. I am not advocating for doing your job half-hearted. You should do a good job. Instead, I am advocating for you to put your efforts where you will get the most bang for your buck.

Until next week.