The difference between success and failure

goalsMany years ago I traveled the Midwest region as an internal consultant working for a large national non-profit organization. For part of my time there, I worked with countless local affiliated organizations on planning and implementing an annual campaign focused on face-to-face solicitation strategy. Some agencies took to it like a duck to water, and others just struggled. Every once in a while (typically when I’m contemplating the origins of the universe), I think back to those days and wonder what the difference was between those two realities.
Whenever I get into one of those “WHY?” moods, I’ve concluded that differences in the following factors must be what made the difference:

  • resource development skill sets
  • state of donor donor readiness
  • board of directors
  • community factors

While I am sure all of these things play a role, I think it might be even more simple.
This morning I was enjoying my coffee and reading a book when I came across the following passages from the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” written by David Schwartz:

Desire, when harnessed is power.”
Success required heart and soul effort and you can only put your heart and soul into something you really desire.”
When you surrender yourself to your desires, when you let yourself become obsessed with a goal, you receive the physical power, energy, and enthusiasm needed to accomplish your goal. But you receive something else, something equally valuable. You receive the ‘automatic instrumentation’ needed to keep you going straight to your objective.”

While I’ve always believed in the power of goal setting, I guess I’ve never seen it in this light or from this perspective.
So, the answer to my original question very likely is simple . . . those who succeeded just desired it more and those that didn’t do well didn’t.
I guess this is why successful fundraising professionals are focused on measurable goals such as:

  • campaign and event contribution goals
  • sponsorship goals
  • grant writing goals
  • donor retention goals
  • new donor acquisition goals

These goals are encapsulated in strategic plans, fundraising plans, stewardship plans, major gift prospect cultivation plans, annual performance plans, etc.
What type of fundraising-related goals does your organization have? Where are those goals written down? How do those goals get translated into your individual goals and where are those written? Were those goals developed collaboratively and do they align with what you’re passionate about? If not, how do you bridge that gap in order to avoid failure?
Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

My big dream for 2013 is . . .

smart goalsThe Nonprofit Blog Carnival is a collection of the best advice and resources that consultants, support organizations, and nonprofits themselves are offering to the nonprofit community through their blogs. The January theme focuses on “your big dream for your organization, cause or the nonprofit community this year, and how you’ll get there.” Today’s post looks at dreams and how your agency can go about framing its strategy in 2013.

Whenever I work with a non-profit organization on goal setting and planning, there are a number of quotes that immediately come to mind such as:

“Good is the enemy of great.” ~Jim Collins

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” ~Rita Mae Brown

 A few weeks ago, I shared a cup of coffee with a local non-profit executive director, and we engaged in a conversation about grant writing and sustainability planning. During that conversation, she said something like: “If agencies only did things that at face value appear to be sustainable, there wouldn’t be a lot of risk taking and innovation going on in the non-profit sector.”

After chewing on this, I absolutely agree with her, but I also don’t see a lot of risk taking going on out there. This got me thinking about this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival topic related to big dreams.

My wish/dream for my non-profit clients in 2013 is that they overcome their resistance to planning.

The following are just a few quick tips I think will help agencies achieve quick little victories and get them closer to goal setting, taking a few risks, more deeply engaging volunteers, and moving the needle:

  1. Don’t give up on doing some assessment work to get things started, but keep these efforts focused on quick and simple. A SWOT analysis tool can accomplish a heck of a lot in a short period of time.
  2. Include volunteers at every step of the process because planning is an “engagement” activity. If you want a plan that only you will work on implementing, then exclude others. If you will need others to help, then include them.
  3. Use SMART Goals. Any “dummy” can do it, click here for more information.
  4. Focus on 50,000 feet in the beginning and make sure to come out of the clouds toward the end of the process by asking specific questions about who will do what and by when.
  5. Find ways to inject urgency into the process. Don’t drag these efforts out over a few months. Can you work hard? Sprint? Get it done in a matter of weeks?  I suggest setting deadlines and assigning someone the responsibility of being the “task master” (e.g. a person who pushes hard to keep your project on track).

Accountability and urgency are sometime best achieved if your agency engages an external consultant like me, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are part of a larger national organization, I’m sure there are internal consultants standing by to provide technical assistance. If you don’t have money to hire someone like me and don’t belong to a national network, then you can always talk to your local network of nonprofit agencies. One of your peers might be experienced in facilitation and willing to donate their time in exchange for something. You never know unless you ask, right?

What obstacles do you find get in your way when dreaming big? What has worked for you when trying to overcome those obstacles to planning and engaging volunteers. Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847