Accentuate the Positive
A popular song from 1944 shared this timeless advice: “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with mister in-between!” Sung by Bing Crosby in the ’40s, Perry Como in the ’50s, Ella Fitzgerald in ’60s, and with covers in every decade following, the message stands the test of time.
For nonprofits, this means starting with a list of your organization’s positives and negatives. This list may be generated by staff and board members, but every nonprofit could really benefit from a more objective perspective. If you haven’t done it recently, enlisting an outside group to assess your strengths and barriers to advancement – from the public’s point of view – is a great idea.
Once that information is in hand, take these lessons to heart:
Accentuate the positive
Whatever you do well, double down on your efforts. Do people like that you participate in community events? Then, schedule more next year. Do they hold your executive director in high regard? Then, get events on the calendar for more presentations and appointments with existing and prospective donors. Put more energy into doing what you do well.
Eliminate the negative
Yes, it’s uncomfortable to hear that no one knows your board members, or that the public doesn’t have a clear understanding of your mission, or that your brand and signage need updating… or a dozen other things. But it’s good to hear what’s wrong. Use that information to get a game plan. If it doesn’t work, stop doing it.
Don’t mess with mister in-between
Focusing on a list of positives to accentuate and a list of negatives to eliminate will keep you busy and help you avoid spinning your wheels on projects that zap your time and resources without a commensurate upside. If it’s getting you nowhere, and taking a majority of your time and energy, it’s not worth doing.
If your nonprofit is ready to invest its time and resources wisely – as well as raise more money for the mission – consider having a professional help you assess, objectively, where you are now. It might not be where you think you are. That way, you can get where you should be by this time next year!
Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook’s mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:
February 1, 2019
IGNITE 2019: Conference
February 4-6, 2019
The Great Fundraising Masterclass
February 7-8, 2019
LSE Annual Behavioural Public Policy Lecture
March 4-6, 2019
Think Double! Fundraising Masterclass
Resources for Smart Fundraising Available on Kindle
Keep up to date on the latest fundraising trends with the Kindle ASR Media collection:
- Reality Fundraising – Ideas, insights and lessons learned through hundreds of best practices from nonprofit professionals nationwide by Bob Hartsook
- Fundraising Leadership – The definitive source for empowering board members to become pro-active fundraising leaders by Karin L. Cox
- Getting Your Ducks in a Row – A tool box of strategies for effective campaign fundraising by Bob Hartsook
- Million Dollar Gifts – Real-life stories of million-dollar gifts that will amaze and inspire your fundraising by Bob Hartsook
- Closing that Gift – “29 secrets” to closing a gift and avoiding the top 10 solicitation mistakes by Bob Hartsook
- Performance-Driven Fundraising – Handy, yet entertaining reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers by Matthew J. Beem
- Nobody Wants to Give Money Away! – Stories, humor and more than two decades of fundraising experience in which Bob explores the nine fundraising truths essential to success by Bob Hartsook
- On The Money! – An enlightening collection of success stories and lessons learned from nonprofit fundraising campaigns nationwide by Bob Hartsook
- $231 Billion Raised and Counting – by Bob Hartsook, Matthew J. Beem, Karin Cox and over a dozen Hartsook consultants and clients. Hartsook shares stories and “Strategies for Success” that will educate and inspire
Hartsook President and CEO Matthew J. Beem’s book Performance-Driven Fundraising: Taking Control of Your Success shares decades of fundraising insights and features campaign success stories. Performance-Driven Fundraising will help accelerate anyone’s learning curve and serve as a valuable reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers. Go here for a special price of $10 (plus shipping and handling).
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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].