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Yaro Starak, a famous blogger, has put these tips on his website.

I like them because they don’t require you to ascribe to a belief system, or tell you how to do it wrong, with the assumption that then you’ll know to do the opposite and do it right.

1. Repeat processes until you have what you want, you are where you want to be and can do what you want to do. Masters become masters through continuous improvement over time, but everyone starts at the beginning.

This means when you do appeals, events, grants, etc. see if you can also attend events for other nonprofits, dissect their appeals, or get copies of successful grant proposals and study them. Keep track of your returns and watch yourself improve as a writer, as an event planner, as a communicator.

2. Become self aware so you take the power of interpreting the world into your own hands. With this power your emotional response and follow-up actions are congruent with the kind of person you are becoming. Choose the positive viewpoint if you want to be happier and healthier.

So if your boss doesn’t give you a compliment, and you know you did a good job with an grant, tell yourself that you did a good job. And then look for a new one.

3. Master the art of continuous improvement even in the face of set-backs, which are inevitable. Your emotions are varied, and unless you master the previous two steps, at some point during your journey towards change, you will experience feelings that will hinder or even completely derail your attempt to change your life for the better. Being able to do it anyway, even when you don’t feel like it, means your negative emotions will not last long and will have minimal impact on your performance.

How we can apply this to development is: When you do a campaign, a major gift visit, or event, and people tell you no, it’s not personal. This is how self awareness can work in your favor in the nonprofit world.

4. Make smart choices and don’t follow the crowd by default. Most people do what everyone else does, and unfortunately the group consensus often causes more harm than good. Your power rests in your ability to think, and importantly, act independently based on what you believe is the right choice for your given situation, not just what everyone else does.

So if your nonprofit has always done an event, but you’re getting diminishing returns, STOP DOING IT. Call in a consultant. Get someone with no axe to grind to take a good hard look at your program. Use free agent bloggers and connected people to help your nonprofit succeed. Beth Kanter just did a wonderful post about this.

5. When you’re not sure what the smart choice is, or you require more information to determine the right choice, then follow the success models of people who have done what you want to do or have what you want. Whenever you have the opportunity to learn from verifiable experts, gurus, teachers, trainers or mentors – which is pretty much all the time thanks to the knowledge economy we presently live in – do it.

For instance, if your event sucks, but you go to another nonprofit event that you loved, find out from people there why it’s good for them, and take note of that. Is it the speaker? Is it the registration process? Is it the community of donors? The entertainment? The food? What makes this a better event?

6. Avoid defaulting to ignorance in response to new inputs. As much as possible, drop preconceived notions and view everything in the world without judgment. The opposite of self awareness is ignorance. While it’s important to remain as open as possible, at some point you do have to make a choice.

I see this so much in nonprofits, and it’s really sad. Whether it’s a blogger telling you they want to help you, or a social media marketing tip, nonprofits are just SO RISK AVERSE! Your nonprofit isn’t going to fold if you get on twitter. No one is going to die. Don’t try to weasel out of having to learn new things. Your nonprofit is only going to survive so long on old ways of doing things and everything needs to change and grow at some point.

Do you have any tips for making your fundraising program better?

Let me know!

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