It’s the new year and time to make resolutions for a better year.

Or not.

Personally, I don’t like making resolutions.

It just feels too hard to stick to them.

My goals are always too lofty and I fall short within a few days, then I feel like a failure.

fundraising changeOr I’m so busy still trying to wrap up things from last year that I don’t take time to set resolutions which leaves me feeling like a failure.

Or I’m trying to throw my plan together for the new year and I know I’m already behind which makes me feel like a failure.

Seeing a theme here? Maybe you feel that way, too.

Seems like there has to be a better way…

What if we could make a commitment instead?

I stopped making resolutions and instead I make a commitment to myself that I will make the best choice possible in the moment. I also commit to prioritizing self care and having fun.

It’s a subtle but important difference. It’s really about thinking differently.

[bctt tweet=”A key shift in your thinking can make ALL the difference when you’re trying to make a change.” username=”SandyRees”]

What we’re talking about here is mindset.

I’ve said for years that mindset is the key to everything, including fundraising.

My favorite quote from Henry Ford sums it up: If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.


Retrain your brain for fundraising change

Making a fundraising change is all about training your brain to think differently.

Thinking different can lead you to take different actions which lead to different results.

You’ve probably heard this, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

What does this look like day-to day?

  • You set a goal to raise more money in the new year, but you keep using the same tired strategies.
  • You want to increase your donor retention rate, but you don’t change the way you communicate with your donors, so donors continue to drop off and stop giving.
  • You’d like more monthly donors, but you keep asking them to help you reach your goal, which they don’t really care about, so they aren’t motivated to join and you can’t figure out why because you haven’t stopped long enough to put yourself in their shoes.

See how this works?

[bctt tweet=”When you’re in a hurry, you don’t give yourself time to think and you NEED to think about what donors want so you can get what YOU want.” username=”SandyRees”]

It’s time for a change in thinking.

It’s time to retrain your brain.

The things you look at change when you change the way you look at them.

So, how do you do that?

Well, the first step in any good step program is to admit you have a problem.

Seriously, here’s how:

1. Decide what you want this year. Name the fundraising goal, down to the penny.

2. Figure out what you need to change to make it happen. It might be the way you think, the story you’re telling yourself (like “this will never work”) or some of your work habits.

3. Commit to doing your personal work to make the change and make it stick.

4. Support yourself with accountability to make sure you stay on task.


A word about work habits…

Be mindful of your work habits. Chances are good you have a few that don’t support you.

Time to let go of bad habits like

  • Not leaving yourself time to plan. Working without a plan puts you constantly in reactive mode, which is not a good place to raise money.
  • Writing at the last minute. Doesn’t matter if you’re writing a grant, an appeal, a newsletter, or a social media post, no one does their best work at the last minute.
  • Treating everyone the same. Sending the same appeal to every name on your list or sending the same grant to every foundation is going to bring you disappointment. You must customize your ask. This is about their needs, not your convenience. So take the time to create and send something that will resonate with each donor.


Try this:

Let’s get you started retraining your brain.

Try these exercises the next time you catch yourself thinking unhelpful thoughts or feeling stuck.

Reframe unhelpful thoughts. Thinking “this won’t work” or “my Board won’t ever help” keeps you stuck. These negative thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. Find a way to reframe these into more positive thoughts and watch things change. Change “this won’t work” into “maybe this will work” or “this might just work.” It’ll leave you with a more positive vibe which can change your whole day. Or use the word “how” to reframe “this won’t work” into “How can we make this work?”

Find evidence of success. When you have those thoughts of “this won’t work” or anything else negative, look for evidence that it might just work. Look at things you’ve done in the past that worked. Collect the data that things have worked before. Data doesn’t lie.

Remember why the mission matters. At the end of the day, your nonprofit exists to make a difference in the world and change lives. Stay focused on that. Remember that everything you do should support your nonprofit’s good work in the world. Spend a few minutes looking through photos or success stories from your nonprofit’s work.


The Bottom Line

The one big fundraising change you need to make this year? Make a change in YOU.

Change your thinking. Change your habits. Show up as a better version of you and I bet you’ll raise more money.


Additional resources

How to predict what you’ll raise this year:

Video – 5 steps to setting intentional goals for fundraising (or anything!):

20 tips to raise more money in the new year: and

12 cool tools to raise more money this year:

Your personal success plan: