10 things I would tell my younger self

The other day a starting fundraiser asked me for general tips and tricks on how to improve his fundraising skills. It got me thinking: what would I tell myself if I was able to go back in time? In random order a list of 10 things I would tell my younger self.

  1. Constantly question what you're doing. If you don't find a satisfactory answer why you are doing what you're doing, keep asking. 'Why' is the king of all questions.
  2. Appreciate and talk to donors more. As Individual Giving fundraiser force yourself to talk to donors from time to time. They are very nice people. Don't just analyse their behaviour. Also understand the reasons why they give. 
  3. Crunch those numbers. Understand the investment dynamics. Understand the long term income potential of retention rates. Program modelling and data analysis is often being dismissed as something fundraisers do too much. In reality, most fundraisers don't do it enough.
  4. Find yourself a mentor. Yoda would say: "Much to learn, you still have." Don't skip the valuable experience of being a rookie fundraiser, but at least accelerate your learning. 
  5. Sign-up for all blogs & read books. Learn, digest, reflect and make it your own. You are never too old to learn and should never stop learning. Nobody knows everything. That includes your boss by the way.
  6. Know your impact on overall results. Your time is limited on earth. And you want to solve the world's biggest problems? Make more impact. Focus on those areas that give you the most returns.
  7. Be ambitious. Grow to be the next Fundraising Director or Head of Fundraising. Make the important decisions of where the fundraising program is going. Take responsibility for results.
  8. Always focus on the donor experience. Your future income relies on donor retention. Donor retention is a result of donor loyalty, which is being driven by donor satisfaction, commitment and trust. And these three are influenced by the experience you give to donors. If you want to secure future income, you have to focus on the donor experience.
  9. Take calculated risks. A window of opportunity is only an opportunity if the returns make up for the time and investment that you've put in. Every project needs a business case to underpin your decision to invest.
  10. Be passionate about changing the world. Fundraising is not just a profession. It's the best profession in the world, because we have the power to change the world for the better. It's one of those rare jobs where your personal values play a very important role. 

Just a quick list, but lots of truth in there, I think. Anything you would add?

I hope that time machine is ready any time soon!