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Being an Olympic Gold Medal Fundraiser

CC 3.0 Lic Photo Author Attribution: Doma-w

I hope you’re having as much fun watching the Olympics as I am.

I love the drama, the stories, and the sheer thrill of watching the athletes reach for things that they have dreamed about their whole lives.

I also find it really inspiring. And though I won’t ever get to soar to quite those athletic heights (ha!), I do feel like it’s critical that we all have some big goals in both our personal and professional lives that give us a sense of accomplishment and victory.

So the question is: what would take to be a gold medal fundraiser?

Let’s face it, some success is raw talent. Just as in sports, there are people who are just fundraising naturals.

There is also hard work. If you follow the 10,000 Hour Rule that Malcolm Gladwell talks about, you can become world-class in any field with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. That’s a lot of personal meetings, people!

But I really think the best fundraisers set intentions. Just like any athlete who dreams of his or her moment of glory, we have to keep looking ahead to see what could be.

So, in the spirit of these Olympic Games, here’s your path to gold:

Set your vision: Beyond meeting budget or just increasing fundraising by a certain percentage, what’s your big vision for where you want your fundraising to go? Even more, what kind of fundraiser do you want to be?

Make a plan: Once you know where you want to go, you have to make a plan to put your dreams into action. Just as athletes create training schedules and fitness goals, so you will need to determine a path from where your fundraising is now to where you want it to be.

Learn from failure: You’re going to need to stretch yourself to meet get to that gold medal level of fundraising. Don’t be afraid to fail! Just make your failures count by weaving them into your next fundraising plan.

Stick with it: I know it’s tempting to go from one interesting and exciting fundraising operation to another, but to really see the fruits of your labor, you have to devote yourself to a fundraising job for the long-term.

Think of the fundraising champions that inspire you. Whether they be Jerold Panas, Kim Klein, or a board member or colleague you know personally, success didn’t come overnight. They’ve been working for a long time, deliberately, towards their goals.

Let’s take up the challenge and strive to that level. For the organizations we work for and for the awesome causes that they champion. Go for gold!

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