No one knows everything.

It’s true. They don’t.

We live in a world full of very smart, clever people who are constantly thinking up and trying out new ways to do things.

If you’re not finding cool people to learn from, you’re working too hard.

It’s easy to find them these days, thanks to the Internet and the vast array of conferences and workshops available to us.

The real trick is finding the RIGHT opportunity to broaden or deepen your education.

About those freebies…

You can find free webinars by the dozens online.

Heck, I teach a bunch of them.

But here’s the deal: you can spend half your time attending free webinars of all kinds and still not be better off.

You know why?

It’s still up to you to figure out what pieces to implement.

You may not get enough content from the trainer to figure out how to take the action you need to take.

The other problem I have with free webinars and ebooks is that they’re free. If you don’t pay anything to attend, you may not be as likely to pay attention.

Think about it: what did you do during the last free webinar you attended?

Were you checking email? Posting on Facebook? Multitasking in another way? How much did you really learn when your attention was divided like that? Was it a good use of your time or should you have just focused on your work and gotten things done?

Now think about the last webinar or workshop you attended that you paid for. Did you pay closer attention? Take notes? Interact with other participants? That’s what I thought.

Free learning opportunities have their place and sometimes you can get a good nugget or two, but they just aren’t the same as getting yourself into a room with a solid curriculum and a trainer who knows what they’re doing, where you can dig in and LEARN something useful.

Why you need to get out of your chair to learn

fundraising educationContinuing education can mean honing your skills, learning new specializations, and coming back to work a stronger, more versatile employee.

It can mean increasing your confidence and lowering your stress, too.

And ultimately, you should be able to raise more money.

I believe your best opportunity for that is in person.

Virtual learning is convenient and when done well can be highly valuable. But it’s just not the same as feeling the energy in the room when you’re sharing training space with others who are trying to better themselves, too.

Here are 12 reasons why you need to invest in your education and sharpen your saw in a live training.

1. Get your geek on. The more you know, the more you can grow your fundraising capabilities. When you learn best practices and keep abreast of the latest trends and tools, you have a bigger toolbox to work with, no matter what fundraising challenges you face.

2. Gain a competitive edge. When you know more, you can be more effective and efficient. Frankly, you can outwork your competition and become your community’s favorite nonprofit, because you’ll know how to master your messaging, give donors good experiences, and keep them giving for years.

3. Kick the simulation blues. Learning in person is deeper and richer than virtual learning. There’s a place for good webinars, but nothing beats the experience of looking your fellow student in the eye when they share their recent fundraising success with you.

4. Meet the mentors. There’s nothing like hearing first-hand from someone who has successfully done what you’re trying to do. Real-world examples are the BEST and are guaranteed to give you ideas you can springboard from. I love going to conferences where I can meet the brightest minds in our industry or have my favorite author personally sign their book for me.

5. Learn from the trail blazers. Don’t you love hearing real stories about people who have tried new things and succeeded? It’s fun to find out exactly what they did, what worked, and what didn’t, especially around new tools and technology. Things change so fast that it’s easy to get lost or left behind.  A good workshop led by someone with street smarts can help you shorten your learning curve substantially.

6. Get inspired! Don’t you love hearing a story or an idea that is so good it gives you goose bumps? Or when you hear something that strikes you in a way that you’ve never heard it before? It’s inspiration that you won’t find anywhere in your usual routine (if you could, you already would have!). You have to get out of your office, experience new things and meet new people to jumpstart your brain’s creativity. You won’t get an Aha sitting at your desk.

7. Catch a wave of greatness. There’s something magic being around like-minded people and those who are trying to do something worthwhile in this world. Sometimes just being around them can inspire you to reach for your own greatness.

fundraising education8. Stay in the know. One thing history teaches us is that things change. What once worked in fundraising doesn’t necessarily work anymore. And if you want to stay on top of your game, you need to keep up with current best practices. There’s no better way to keep up than with a workshop designed to teach you cutting edge strategies.

9. Increase your confidence. Timid fundraisers rarely blow past their goals. If you’re uncomfortable asking for money or creating a plan or working with Board members, then a little education might be just what you need to increase your confidence and set you on the path to success.

10. Build your network.  Where better to meet your next mentor or your next favorite colleague than at a workshop? Chances are good that you’ll sit next to someone very similar to you – passionate, eager to learn, anxious to raise more money, and with a few stories to tell. You can provide support to each other, share resources, and brainstorm ideas.

11. Expand your tool box. A good workshop will give you new resources, tools, and technology to make your life easier as you work to raise money. You might learn these from the presenter or from someone sitting close to you at the break.your tool box.

12. Stoke the fire. Maybe the most important thing you can leave a workshop with is a rekindled personal passion for your job and your nonprofit’s mission. Sometimes seeing your work through the eyes of others can do just that.

I always say that the day you think you know everything is the day you need to quit. There’s ALWAYS something new to learn and someone new to learn from.

Make a commitment to continuing your fundraising education. Carve out time and resources from your budget to attend local trainings or larger national conferences.

It may be just the thing you need to take your fundraising to the next level!

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