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1 December 2016


 December 1, 2016
Category: Conflict

Each year I talk about my mistakes!

Here are my mistakes from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 and 2015. And 23 of my fundraising career mistakes, too!


Because I like to remember what I did and how I can do better next year.

Also, I think it’s important to show you what I did so you can avoid my mistakes too.

When I think about mistakes, I think about vulnerability. And I think about Saturn.

Why Saturn?

If you’ve ever been 29 to, say, 31, you may have had something called a Saturn return.
This is when life usually gets hard for you. You might have a LOT of pressure on you, you might be making bad relationship decisions, you might lose your job, you might move to a new place and be completely lost in your direction. You might actually be depressed.

Saturn in Greek and Roman mythology is the father-god, the one who is the limiter, the critic. When we go through a Saturn period, we’re going to be going through a fire of limitations, of criticisms. We’ll be making LOTS of mistakes. At least, that’s how they’ll appear on the outside. But on the inside, we’re learning. So it’s not wasted. We come out from Saturn, and we have a little graduation cap. We’ve changed, and we’re better for the sadness and pain.


When I share my mistakes with you, I know it’s about vulnerability too. I want to be more vulnerable in front of people, because I think too many people online just show their best face, their happy face, and their success. They don’t usually show their fear, their sadness, or their mistakes. Is it photogenic? OK put it on instagram. But usually failures are NOT photographed (without quickly being deleted!).

So, how did I suffer this year? What mistakes did I make?

1. I made the BIG mistake of not communicating my feelings.

I was putting on a mask like I didn’t have any feelings. THIS one was really hard to see, and it was really hard to understand. I had no idea I was doing this. It actually took going to a healthcare professional to see this.

Why did this happen? It’s family patterns, first and foremost. But I’m not hiding behind that excuse now.

Now, when I’m feeling something, I actually say, “Hey, here’s what I’m feeling right now.” And then I keep communicating what I’m feeling. It’s SO WEIRD! I feel like I’m oversharing all the time. But I’m starting to get more comfortable with this. Maybe in a year or two it will be just second nature to share how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling that way. GOD i hope so.

2. Putting together two conferences back to back, getting people confused.

Oops! Won’t do that again! But I’m happy I started talking with not just nonprofit employees but nonprofit bosses and boards. Because if we want to make TRUE change at our nonprofits, get higher wages, and create a culture of philanthropy, we have to talk with EVERYONE.

3. Forcing myself to overperform and not take a rest. Why?

It’s a habit I learned early in fundraising! Just KEEP GOING WITHOUT RESTING! Until you collapse! But it’s not just about fundraising. According to Salty Droid, “Women have been undervalued … forced to over-perform just to survive.”

4. Hiring a firm to do Facebook ads for me, and having them REALLY underperform and not do anything about it.

But I learned my lesson on that one! I am working with a new person on Facebook ads and he is fantastic. I am so pleased with how things are going with him.

5. Having like 5 different systems and wasting so much money!

I was using Leadpages, Unbounce, iContact, Mailchimp, Aweber, and more. Now I have one system, Ontraport, and it fulfills everything I need.

6. Stopping meditation and journaling practices in favor of noodling on the internet and reading trashy novels.

(Um I could blame the election but actually a lot of things are hard right now. I have been wallowing. I admit it. I want to get back on this train now)

7. I always make a mistake before the end of the year, so I’m leaving this here, to edit later, and I’m sure I’ll share my end of year mistake with you!

Do you have any mistakes you want to share?


4 responses on “My mistakes of 2016

  1. I just found your blog – and I really like it!! I left working within non-profits with very significant gender gap pay / promotion issues – as a combination of principle and possibility. I have always been an entrepreneur and acted in that role within each of the organizations I worked with – increasing participation or revenue beyond expectations, introducing new tools and methods. BUT – as a mom of three whose income is necessary – the instability of starting a consultancy did not jive with our budget ;). While I was able to replicate a schools’ entire revenue in the span of 6 weeks of planning by using innovative crowdfunding experience model (raising $274,000 from a $200,000 goal) – the process of getting this gig and negotiating it took way longer than our budget allowed. It was an outstanding experience, but a mistake for stability for my family finances. While I am an entrepreneur – the standard entrepreneur ‘model’ was not compatible with supporting my family. I just joined a start up crowdfunding platform to teach them and their clients my methods – to expand this model – but it took months for me to leave behind the idea of working independently. But as a mom who needs to support her family – this was the best middle road. Not balancing my family enough into “my” equation was a big mistake.

  2. Trey says:

    I love the agency I work for, love the people, love the Mission. We work on behalf of our Elders, and many of the people who work in our agency are 50+ (including me, but barely). I was hired to research ways to improve our communications with donors and potential donors, and to manage our database for the purpose of communications and development. This is a newly created position. Okay, so here’s my biggest mistake of 2016: I’m a little Miss Pushypants. I find data about better ways to communicate and I get so excited that I share it and want to move on it waaaayy too fast for the people who’ve been at this a long time. And, did I mention I work with people who are my elders and who have decades of experience doing things the way they’ve always done them? 2017 will be my Year of Patience.

    • Wow. I totally relate. I just started working with a young start up where innovation and divergent thinking are super valued – but some of our clients are typical non-profits – and finding a bridge to communicate is often difficult – and I worked for years in non-profit. Great insight.

  3. Susan says:

    I feel such affinity and compassion for you, Maz! I am going through a transformation – partly intentional and partly just intending to learn from my own experiences – some of which are called (by me) “mistakes”. This year I made the mistake of not being insistent enough with people who I felt intimidated by, which led to some promising beginnings (training Board members, prospecting plans) falling by the wayside and not creating the educational floor I intended to put in place. I made the mistake of not asking for help from those who were willing to do something to help – until I realized that “failure” was going to be my trying to do it all myself because fundraising is not a one-woman job! I made the mistake of taking a long time to realize that I AM a part of a community – geographic and social – and that that community already has its own culture of volunteerism and philanthropy – they just don’t use the professional fundraising language that I am so invested in. Taking a long time to learn how to talk plainly and ask for what I need simply. And finally, despite all these mistakes, actually accomplishing great things – but being hesitant to own my success, which is disrespectful to ME and ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVED IN ME AND HELPED. But my first year in an all new job – in a new location – in a new field – well, I am glad that I showed up to make those mistakes, because it’s worth it! And finally, like you, I am finding that taking reasonable risks to be vulnerable and truthful beats the hell out of the alternative! Thanks for the inspiration, Maz.