I'm a sucker for New Year's Resolutions lists, even though I rarely make them myself. There's something so hopeful about them, as if by simply writing down the things we hope to do, we can make our lives better.
I often wonder, though, if the things we wish we were doing really are the most important to focus on. Perhaps it would be more helpful to make a list of things we're doing that we should strive to STOP doing. So with that in mind, here's my list of bad fundraising habits that you should banish in 2012.
STOP promising the moon.
When the pressure's on, it's hard not to make any promise you can in the hopes that you'll be able to come through. But aiming for the stars when you're traveling in an old jalopy is an exercise in futility.
Make your goals realistic and achievable for where you are right now. Small successes lead to bigger successes. And if you can build on those successes, you'll be able to promise the moon when you can actually deliver it.
STOP playing it safe.
This might seem like the opposite of the above, but I think the two go hand-in-hand. When you're promising more than you can deliver on one project, you're forced to play it safe in other areas to compensate.
The best way to have a successful year is to try new things, reach out to new people, engage new experts, and test, test, test.
STOP wallowing in your mistakes.
We all make mistakes. But dwelling on them doesn't make you better, it makes you more paranoid. Embrace your mistakes, and find the nuggets of wisdom that come from them.
STOP downplaying your successes
Normally, I'm not a fan of those who toot their own horns, since far too often, those who talk about how hard they're working are just that: all talk.
But if you have a successful fundraising event, help craft a winning direct mail package, or convince a donor to give more than she's given in the past, make sure you share those successes with your board, your volunteers and your staff. Hold those triumphs up as examples of what can be done...and challenge your people to beat them.
I'm going to work on these things this year, and I challenge you to develop your own Stop List for 2012.