Work rhythms are common.

We all fall into ways of doing things that serve us in some way.

We host the same special event each year or we submit the same grant application each year. It works for a while, but then attendance starts to drop off or our grant is no longer funded.

We scratch our head and try to figure out what’s going on.

It’s a good idea to evaluate your work habits periodically to make sure they still work.

I was talking with a client yesterday and she was telling me about someone in her organization who has become a problem child. Every time others talk about changing things or trying something new, this woman says “that’s not the way we do it.” She’s not willing to hear a new idea. She’s so stuck in the old ways of doing things that she’s starting to impede the progress of the organization. In fact, she clings so tightly to the old ways, that she’s gotten quite negative with others and has lost sight of the mission of the organization. Others are now avoiding interaction with her because of her negativity. It’s become “me vs. them” and she’s determined to win.

I can remember working with a couple of people just like this. In one case, I came back from a conference with new ideas ready to implement, and she did her best to discredit me and squash my enthusiasm. I never could understand why she was so negative, unless she was terrified of change. Maybe she wanted to be the “Star of the Show” and I was stealing her limelight. Either way it was holding the nonprofit back from doing bigger and better things.

So, back to my original question.

What happens when you do what you’ve always done?

You get what you always got.

If you aren’t happy with the fundraising results (or any results for that matter) you’re getting, then you MUST change what you’re doing. Simple as that.

You have to find a way to get these negative folks on board with moving forward, or they need to be let go. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. You have way too much important work to do in the world to be held back by someone who has their own agenda.

Have you had experience working with negative people in your nonprofit who were reluctant to change? I’d love to hear your story. Click on the comment link and share.

Comments

comments

  1. Whether it is a reluctance to change or some kind of misguided control/power issues, this is so common in nonprofit fundraising.

    Happened to me in my very first development job, as a matter of fact. I came into the agency, quickly learned that virtually nothing had been done for the past five years, dramatically increased their grant funding, individual donations and community involvement in a matter of less than two years and then … a new ED arrived on the scene. Before I knew it she was taking her red pen to my appeal letters and re-writing them in typical nonprofit speak and doing the same with proposals and web copy.

    I loved Tom Ahern’s last newsletter. He said it better than I could:

    “Chief fundraisers SHOULD control all fundraising communications dictatorially, WITHOUT needing approval from anyone else. The fundraiser should pick every thought, every word, and every punctuation. But that is rarely the case.”

  2. There is another way to develop funding for those special projects and to satisfy operational cost requirements. I am trying out something you don’t see much of – a virtual gift shop.

    Museums, large churches and other large nonprofits have gift shops. Members and visitors browse the counters, see what they like and purchase. A percentage of the profits from the purchases go to satisfy the costs relating to running the store. The rest of the profits go to funding the organization.

    The organization stocks the shop with items that pertain to what the organization is all about. Just like any store the organization’s gift shop attempts to operate at a profit and succeeding in its own right. The venture is a risk to the organization.

    I have a dream. (Where have we heard that one before?) I’d like to provide the opportunity to fund nonprofits of all types. By personal tastes tend to favor those who are community minded, promote healthy living, or assist with spiritual development. At the same time, I, like many others, must pay the bills and place food on the table. Yet how do I achieve my goal of assisting nonprofits with their funding needs while satisfying my children’s hungry bellies? (And boy can these kids eat!)

    My alternate goal is to provide a risk free environment to the nonprofit by requiring no start up costs on their part while stocking a store with the items they want to sell in pursuit of their mission.

    My efforts come down to the virtual gift shop. If you’re interested in looking at it the URL is: http://ourvirtualgiftshop.com/. I plan soon to send out inquiry emails to several nonprofits in the Seattle area. I’ll follow up the emails with a phone call. I’ll ask executive directors, board members and pastors to register as an affiliate with my site. As the nonprofit becomes an affiliate I will stock the store at my expense. The stock will be selected per the requirements of the affiliate. The affiliate will receive a code. People purchasing items will enter the code. The affiliate will receive a percentage of the gross sales amount.

    Initially the percentage will be 5%. As the business grows (Hopefully, yes?) the percentage will increase.

    What the affiliate can do to drive revenues is promote their gift shop. To make for an affiliate friendly or unique experience I’ll provide a landing page for each organization. A URL that can be given out that takes shoppers right to the affiliate’s page and description.

    Those who simply peruse the site can choose to enter in any affiliate’s code and thereby promote or contribute to the mission of any given nonprofit.

    This idea of mine is just taking on form. The site is up. The store is stocked with an initial inventory. All that is needed now is for me to get on the stick and start contacting prospects.

    Wish me luck!

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