Many of us just celebrated the New Year. Being Jewish, I get the honor of having a religious New Year (some time in September, depending on the Jewish calendar) and a secular one — aren’t I lucky?!? With a New Year comes new opportunities for success. And January is the best month to start working on those opportunities because January is likely a non-profit’s most quiet month (from a fundraising perspective — there’s still a lot of year-end stuff to do).
The frenetic pace of the last six weeks has probably caught up to you. Hopefully, you could decompress over the last few days of 2022. Now you are back at your desk (wherever that may be), ready to take on 2023 with determination. But what can you do (practically) differently that won’t upset your path to success?
Call a donor
Seriously. Call a donor. You may wish to start every day (or every week) by calling a donor and thanking them for their past support. It may be a call to a first-time donor, or a call to a 20-year supporter. However you decide to select a name to call, make the effort, pick up the phone (not an email) and call the donor. This is a thank you call — not a solicitation. Find out some information while you are on the call:
- Why do they support your organization? What is their story?
- How did they find the donation process? Was it cumbersome?
- Do they have questions for our organization? (If you can’t answer their questions immediately, don’t worry — you can always follow up. It’s a good reason to keep the communications open.)
- Do they have anything else that they would like to share with the organization?
I have always found that speaking to a donor makes my mood better. (You don’t call a donor to thank them while you are upset because you know the donor could sense your mood, so calling a donor has to improve your mood!)
Take a Break
Many of us just came back from a break/vacation. That is not what I am referring to. I mean, literally, take a break every few hours. Grab a coffee. Go for a walk. Clear your head. Strangely enough, many of my best ideas regarding fundraising (or even my business) come when I am not at my desk. Allow yourself to wander off in thought — sometimes you can figure out an answer to an issue that has stumped you in the past.
New Year to Help Others
Most of us are fundraising because of our desire to help others. Maybe there is somebody on your team that could use your help? Maybe there is someone out there that you can be a mentor to? Everybody has something of value that they could impart to someone else. It doesn’t need to be an official protégé/mentor relationship. Perhaps it is just being a sounding board for another fundraiser at a different shop.
Increase Your Knowledge
The world has definitely changed in the last three years. What worked in 2019 may not work today. The only way that you are going to change the status quo is to look for ways to be innovative, effective, and inspirational. You may find that next great idea in a book, or on a webinar, or at a conference. I have always said that if you take part in an educational experience and you can walk away with one or two nuggets of information that will help you in the future, then that was a worthy educational experience.
New Year to Enjoy Yourself
Our jobs make a difference. Often, someone’s salary depends on our success. Or, possibly, we are clothing/feeding/sheltering someone who cannot do it for themselves. That is a serious responsibility. You need to make sure that you couple that responsibility with some fun, downtime, or you will burn out. Work hard, but remember to play hard too.
I will not call the five categories mentioned above New Year’s resolutions, rather I will call them guiding principals for a successful 2023. Each of us has it in ourselves to make 2023 better than 2022. But you must take control of your own destiny — you can control your own happiness.
Welcome to 2023. L’chaim.