Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

The Secret To Success in Fundraising (This Isn’t Self-Help Hyperbole. It’s The Real Secret.)

December 12th, 2013 by Karen Climer

Back in the good old days, Albert E.N. Gray worked for the Prudential Insurance Company of America.  After 20 years of achieving tremendous success out in the field, he was asked to become a sales trainer.  When the sales reps came in and asked him how to be successful, he told them all the things that he believed made someone a successful sales person: you have to have a great work ethic, you have to like people, you have to be enthusiastic.  That’s probably what most of us would have said too.

After a while, Gray realized that  he knew a lot of people who worked hard, but they weren’t successful.  Many of them even liked people and were extremely enthusiastic, but they weren’t successful either.  So what gives?

He decided to do some research on what it is that differentiates the winners from the losers.  He took a year and interviewed successful people all over North America.  He read biographies and autobiographies.  In 1940, he gave a speech at the annual convention of the National Association of Life Underwriters (NALU) called: The Common Denominator of Success.  In his speech, he revealed the one thing separates successful people from failures.  He said: “Successful people form a habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

That’s it.  That’s all there is to it.  Successful people form a habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.  That doesn’t mean that successful people enjoy making cold calls.  It just means they’ve formed a habit of it.  Successful people may not enjoy measuring outcomes, but they’ve formed a habit of it.  Successful people may not enjoy entering their conversation notes into the database, but they’ve  formed a habit of it.

Gray said that unsuccessful people are motivated by pleasing methods.  Successful people are motivated by pleasing results Sometimes it is easier to use the method that lets you be less successful than it is to do those things that you find uncomfortable but will make you successful.

I just got a solicitation letter that was hand-addressed.  If you’ve ever addressed thousands of envelopes, you know this is not the most enjoyable activity.  But, I bet this organization gets a better response rate than if they had used labels.  This organization is focusing on pleasing results – and I bet they will get them.

What about the organization that sends a form letter asking for $50,000 instead of picking up the phone and arranging a visit?  That’s the organization has chosen methods over results.

What are the habits that you are willing to do for your success and your organization’s success that other people say “No, it’s not worth it.”?

Posted in Organizational Culture

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