This post is getting a little more personal than I’m comfortable with, but enough people have asked me what it took to lose 40 pounds that I thought it might be good to reflect on the topic. During my reflection, I realized that there were many similarities with accomplishing any major project, including the raising of funds. Just as raising money is not about the money, losing weight really isn’t about the weight.
It’s my intention to come back to this list and reflect on it more, but here’s my list to get started:
- I needed to change the way I thought about food. Each time I started to eat something I started asking myself why I was eating. If it was anything besides being hungry, I either ate less of it or didn’t eat to begin with. In fundraising we need to change the way we think about money – it’s really about the mission.
- The Law of Diminishing Returns. The first bit of chocolate cake tastes great. By the last bite we just finish it because it’s there – and because we’re supposed to clean our plate. Why not just east three or four bites? In fundraising, we need to determine ahead of time what the right amount is. It’s not about raising as much as you can, it’s about determining what you will need to accomplish your mission, then developing strategies and building partnerships to accomplish that.
- Pick something – and follow it. Without an eating plan, it’s difficult to stick to it. Just as we need an eating plan (ie diet) we also need a plan to pursue in the raising of funds.
- I chose to count calories as my plan – both intake and output. However I also wanted to eat healthier foods, so I returned to the basics of healthy eating: less processed foods, less sugar, limiting preservatives. That helped guide what I chose to eat (beyond simply fewer calories). We can get back to the basics in fundraising as well: personal contact, focus on relationships and donor engagement.
- This was a lifestyle change – not a diet. Permanent changes in the way we operate, rather than a short diversion.
- Set interim goals. When I started, I knew I wanted to lose 40 pounds, but rather than frustrate myself by ONLY looking at that long-term goal, I broke it down into smaller increments (looking at both total calorie counts and weight). Interim goals in our fund raising plans can let us know we’re on the right track – looking at things like donors visits, number of donor renewing their gifts, etc.
- Pushing through. There were a few times when my weight plateaued. In the past that’s when I would abandon the plan. This time I pushed through anyone, trusting the research and the experience of others that, in time, I would reach the other side. In our fundraising programs, there might also be times where it doesn’t seem to be working. Trust the process. Trust those who have gone before.