In the nonprofit world, everything hinges on successful fundraising.
You’ve got to have money to deliver programs, right? Money keeps the lights on, the staff paid, and everything working.
So, what does it really take to be successful in fundraising? Knowledge? Skill? Connections? All those things are definitely helpful.
Yet there’s something else.
In his book “Outliers,” Malcom Gladwell says that “success is a function of persistence and doggedness.”
Isn’t that really what success boils down to? Isn’t it all about the ability to hang in there when things don’t go as planned?
How many of us have real doggedness? That kind of “stick with it” attitude that doesn’t allow anything to blow you off track?
If you read the biographies of successful people, you’ll see that their stories are full of relentless persistence. For example:
- Milton Hersey started 3 unsuccessful candy companies before succeeding.
- Michael Jordan, the most famous name in basketball, was actually cut from his high school basketball team.
- Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school and applied to attend film school three times, but was unsuccessful due to his C average.
- Twelve different publishers rejected the first Harry Potter book. Even Bloomsbury, the small publishing house that finally purchased Rowling’s manuscript, told the author to “get a day job.”
- As a young man, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because his boss thought he lacked creativity!
Here’s my point – Most of the time, success is about not giving up.
It’s about hanging in there through setbacks and failures. It’s about staying focused on the reasons why your nonprofit’s mission matters.
Not everything is going to go perfectly all the time. That’s absurd to think that it will. It’s not “if” the failures will happen, but “when” they will. How you respond to them says a lot about who you are.
It’s time to let go of any myths of success that you might be hanging on to.
There are no overnight successes.
“Get rich quick” is a lie.
Money doesn’t just flow in because your organization is nonprofit
Raising money and changing the world isn’t an easy job. There are lots of potholes in the road to success. But if you’re willing to hang in there when things get hard, you’ll have one of the most enjoyable, personally satisfying experiences of your life.
Some days, overcoming your own personal trials means that your nonprofit’s programs and services will continue to be delivered. I can remember several times when I have tried fundraising events or activities that just fell flat. It would have been easy to give up and throw in the towel. But instead, I chose to examine those experiences and look for the learning. Sometimes it was obvious and sometimes it wasn’t. Yet every time, I was able to move forward with more knowledge about how to improve the next time.
When I worked at the food bank, I figured out quickly that when I did my job well, people ate. And it was that simple to me. I knew I could let my own stuff get in the way or I could work through it, come out the other side, and ultimately raise more money. (Guess which option I chose?)
What we do matters. We change the world every day.
Don’t ever forget it. It might just help you get through the next time something doesn’t work out the way you want it to.