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One Trait You Control Can Lead to Yes!

Donors Love This Trait!

Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2018 Annual Letter, “The Ten Toughest Questions We Get,” begins like this: “We are outspoken about our optimism. These days, though, optimism seems to be in short supply.

“Compare today to the way things were a decade or a century ago….But being an optimist isn’t about knowing that life used to be worse. It’s about knowing how life can get better. And that’s what really fuels our optimism.”

Whether you’re a fundraiser, a board member, or a donor (or all three combined), you’re likely optimistic about the power of philanthropy to make life better!

Today’s blog is the fourth in a series on Four Traits Found in Successful Fundraisers. (To read the past blogs, click on the topic.) Successful fundraisers…

But staying optimistic can be challenging so I’m providing three quick tips to help you maintain your passion, stoke your joy, and refill your optimism tank, which can keep you raising money day after day, ask after ask.

1. Stay close to the people most impacted by your mission.

For most of my years as vice president of a hospital foundation, our office was located several miles off campus. Each week, however, I chose to work remotely from the hospital for a few hours. It was there I received my inspiration by being near the people we were helping. “Ah,” I would think, “this is why we do this job.” Seeing the impact philanthropy had on people caused me to care more deeply about our mission. My passion could then be conveyed to donors in stories and outcomes and real-life examples.

2. Never lose the awe you feel when hearing “Yes!”

Truly successful fundraisers, I believe, are always a little surprised when the donor says Yes. Surprised, I mean, at the generosity of people who choose to give away money they earned, paid taxes on, and could have spent on whatever their heart desired! Comments like “She’ll never miss it,” or “They could have given twice as much!” reveal much more about the fundraiser than the donor. Never assume a position of entitlement even when a gift is given year after year. Maintaining deep gratitude for the precious “Yes!” shields us from the ping of the disappointing “No!”

3. Fundraising is more than a job; you’re the guardian of a mission

Believe in the mission you represent and figure out how to make it matter to others! Reinforce your cause with facts, metrics, and outcomes while acknowledging that heartfelt giving is often intertwined with stories and testimonials. Mission-based results keep you inspired. We’re not “asking for money.” We’re helping educate children or end homelessness or treat mental illness or feed senior citizens or tutor at-risk children or provide access to world-class music or art. Fundraising is the essential path to these results.

Recently, my casual conversation with a very generous philanthropist went something like this: “Fundraising isn’t hard,” he said. Pause. “In fact, it’s wonderful.”

“Yes,” I replied, “Where else in the world can you live in a capitalist society and enjoy a democracy that allows you to make so much money you get to decide where to use it in order to make the impact you want to see?”

We both smiled, knowing we share an unwavering faith in the impact of philanthropy and the power of optimism!


To share feedback on this post, email PMiracle@MiracleStrategies.com or post to my Facebook page. To get winning, donor-centric,  goal-focused fundraising & marketing tips delivered directly to your inbox sign up here!