In more than a decade of interviewing those few fundraisers who raise dramatically more money than other people, I’ve noticed three things:
a) They didn’t get lucky – anyone might get a lucky result once in a while, but this consistent success happens for a reason.
b) Consistent success leaves clues – huge success can be tracked back to certain things they do repeatedly. It is small things done every day or every week which accumulate and make a big difference to your ability to raise more money.
c) One of these habits is to continuously learn and grow – They continue to have a hunger to learn throughout their career. Even at the very top of their game, they’re still trying to find an even better way to solve the challenges of fundraising.
Before the internet, the habit of continuous professional development was much less fair. For example, you either had to find the budget (your own or your charitie’s) to go on a course / to a conference, or you had to buy a book. (Not many public libraries are stocked with exactly the books you need).
But in the last ten years, technology has given us all access to some of the greatest minds on the planet within a few clicks. I still read as many books as I possibly can – especially while commuting – and I go on as many courses as I can – and when anyone asks me for advice as to how to raise more money, I recommend they do the same because these things help achieve deep learning, which leads to deeper skill and so consistently better results.
But I also recommend you regularly tap into ideas and techniques from some of the greatest minds on the planet – by watching TED talks.
There are so many great TED talks, but if you work in fundraising, I would start with these three:
- The way we think about charity is dead wrong by Dan Pallotta – The current climate in the media brings with it the opportunity to do certain things better, and wise fundraisers are taking advantage of this. But we also need to become more skilful at smashing the myths and ignorance that are crushing charities’ ability to inspire donors. In this fabulous talk, Dan Pallotta not only demonstrates the logical arguments with which we can redress the balance…he also puts fire in your belly to go and do it.
- Start with why by Simon Sinek. The most common mistake I find in most fundraisers who ask for my help, even in very experienced teams, is the tendency to talk / write to donors too much about what your charity does. At best this leaves your donors luke-warm (even if this is what they asked you to tell them). They may even seem interested, but telling them WHAT before helping them connect to WHY is the biggest reason they will fail to give.
Simon’s inspiring talk demonstrates that tapping in to the reason WHY, rather than WHAT you do or HOW you do it, is the trump card of The Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs and your organisation too. This talk also proves very powerful in team meetings and on away days to help teams find drive for themselves and their donors.
- Your body posture shapes who you are by Professor Amy Cuddy. This is the second most viewed TED talk ever, with 33 million views, and with good reason. Sooner or later any successful fundraiser needs to speak confidently in difficult, stressful situations. In this inspiring, practical talk, the magnificent Amy Cuddy shows you a two minute technique that has been proven to improve your influencing results, increase your confidence by at least 20% and reduce the stress you feel by at least 25%. I’ve been sharing this technique with teams for months now, and it works. Can you afford for your team to not know what Professor Cuddy teaches? (I also highly recommend her book Presence).
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