Did you ever make a bucket list?

What did it include?

“Go Skydiving!” “Swim with the Dolphins!” “Get a PhD!”

Notice one common denominator in all of those?


They cost money.

Did Einstein ever have a bucket list?

I doubt it. His life was memorable and interesting enough without one.

From The Guardian:

Are bucket lists really a good idea?

It can be useful to have defined goals, of course, but the lists seem to encourage a strange blend of highly individualised behaviour and conformity, a situation in which everyone is hurtling, alone, towards similar goals.

The psychotherapist Philippa Perry suggests, laughingly, that they might actually have been started “as a brilliant PR stunt by somebody who was selling swimming with dolphins”.

There’s a consumerist, acquisitive vibe to many of the lists, with the experience they replicate being the writing of a shopping list, says Perry. Instead of building on what you already have, “to make a good life,” she continues, “it’s really an attempt to fill an existential void”. . .
Psychologist Linda Blair, who is writing a book called The Key to Calm, to help people deal with stress and anxiety, says chasing big experiences is worthwhile if you enjoy the whole process. “Saving up the money, planning it with friends, and then the moment as well. I’m all for that,” she says.

“But if you’re constantly living in the future, ignoring what’s going on right now because you’re shooting for goals, which happen so quickly that they’re over, and then you have to chase another one, you’re not really living.

Are you attempting to fill an existential void by collecting experiences?

I published 3 books, 11 e-courses and 15 webinars in the last three years, and helped literally thousands of people fundraise.

Did I make a bucket list to do these things? Did I set out to do these things 10 years ago, even 3 years ago?

No. I just muddled along and figured out what worked for me and started to understand how I wanted to be in the world by living through all of the indecision, dead ends, and missing links. But looking at my website or my bio, you would never see all of these mistakes I made! I made so many!

The trouble with bucket lists is they can make it seem like you’re doing things of value, when you might just be filling them with other people’s ideas or expectations.

Nobody expected me to write or start a business, nobody told me to do this, and until I started to write books, and help people with fundraising, I didn’t know other people doing this kind of work. 

Bucket lists can make it seem so easy. Just “go do this thing!”

But will it have any real significance for you? Will it truly create a meaningful life? Or is it a stand-in for a meaningful life?

I’ve travelled quite a bit, sure. I’ve taken trips for pleasure and trips to volunteer to help people in other countries. I’ve done things that are maybe on other people’s bucket lists. But when I got home from travelling, I had some diverting memories and some pictures, but it just felt empty. Like, well, that was an experience, but what am I going to do now?

Here’s what I say. Fuck the bucket list. It can be consumerist and based around conformity. What can you do instead?

Well, make a list of goals, sure, but first, look back on your desires and accomplishments of the last ten years. What do they tell you about yourself and what makes you happy?

I’ll go first.

kick-the-bucketWhat am I most proud of accomplishing in the last ten years?

I am proud of building my own business and helping others succeed along the way.

I am proud that I am a government contractor for the Oregon SBDC and the City of Austin, and that I’ve spoken to over 3,000 people all over the country and helped them be more effective with their fundraising.

I’m proud that I have published three how-to books, on subjects like social media, careers, and fundraising.

AND I’ve published 11 e-courses that help people fundraise, as well as creating 15+ workshop presentations, and people have told me that they have gotten 1,000 more people on their email list because of my e-courses, or raised more than $75,000 in sponsorship because of my training. People have also told me that they raised $35,000 with their appeals in the last winter appeal cycle, and one nonprofit went from raising $3,000 to $16,000 in just a year because of my appeal letter advice and support!

I am proud that I am constantly writing helpful articles and getting more traffic to WildWomanFundraising.com, now anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 people every month, because I know that I am helping thousands of people that I will never meet.

And not only am I helping people that read this website, I am helping (in a small way) the charities they work and volunteer for, and the people that they serve with those nonprofits, through my fundraising advice. That makes me feel so good!

How do I know I am helping these nonprofit fundraising professionals?

Because I keep getting emails like these.

Thanks for your lovely postcard. I loved your book, Get the Job! In fact, it has helped me get two job offers and negotiate a raise since I bought it. Your book helped me write excellent cover letters and resumes and ask the right questions during interviews.  I decided the first offer wasn’t the best fit and turned it down, but am very excited to start my new job soon.  I will be re-reading the chapters on setting realistic expectations at my new job, which is part of a start up foundation for a university here in the UK (hard to believe there are still universities out there not in the fundraising game).

This week I am celebrating a quick win I had writing to current regular givers asking them to increase their monthly donations. The response so far has been phenomenal, and I now have a very sore wrist from handwriting so many thank you notes. Thanks for writing such a helpful book and an inspirational blog! Sincerely, Stephanie


“Yesterday’s webinar was extremely informative, confirming many observations and concerns that staff have raised with regard to board recruitment and performance.  The additional resources provided will be very useful in evaluating current practices and educating board members to become more effective.” -Betty Batten


I can’t begin to thank you enough for our conversation yesterday. Your generosity and compassion, coupled with your expertise and integrity make you a rare and invaluable individual in today’s world.  Thank you so much for all of the resources; I’m plowing through them now.  
I’m still not sure where I’m going with this; it’s been a long haul, and I haven’t been able to see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel.  Not a good way to live, but I like being on this new path, as it seems to make the most sense for what I’ve done and where I want to be.
Just noticed my LinkedIn post about you got 26 views.  Let’s hope you get some business out of all of this!  
If I may, I will take you up on your offer to check in periodically, but you must let me know if I’m becoming too much of a bother.  I don’t want to interfere with your new products!  Speaking of which, in addition to the eBook I suggested, I see from your website that you do quite a bit of teaching.  Let me know if you anticipate making any appearances in NYC.  In the meantime, I intend to eat your website and all the material you shared!
Thank you again for jumpstarting my heart. -Anonymous
What would I like to accomplish next?
This isn’t a bucket list, it’s just some goals. I’d like to speak at a conference in Australia, and in the UK. I’d like to write and publish more books. I’d like to do more government contracting. I’d like to integrate my spiritual side a bit more with what I’m doing to encourage and empower people.

What have you accomplished in the last 10 years that you are proud of? I’d love to hear!Fundraising Mastermind Elite

Now you know all that I’ve been accomplishing. It’s a lot! And I am not anywhere near finished yet with helping people learn about fundraising.

If you’d like to learn more about fundraising, and take advantage of my 11 e-courses (adding more all the time) and my 15 webinars (adding more all the time) as well as have monthly calls with me to help you take your fundraising to the next level, you might like Fundraising Mastermind Elite.

Check out Fundraising Mastermind Elite. It’s like getting a $2,500 coupon to my store, for one very low price!