Separate The Juice From The Pits

The juicer at Organique.
I saw this juicer in action at Organique, a restaurant I like on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. It got me thinking about fundraising. You have to separate the juice from the pits. Distinguish between the valuable and necessary, and the time suck.

I say all this as someone who cares deeply about relationships. I think often about the relationships in my personal and professional life. I’m developing a new keynote on building and maintaining relationships that pulls in my stand-up comedy. The most important thing in my life is people, and my relationships with them.

You have to be smart about which relationships you spend the most time cultivating and nurturing. Be judicious with your time.

The first place this applies is with your prospects. Every prospect deserves as much time as you can devote to them, until your gut tells you they aren’t serious about a gift. You might hear it directly from the person, but that often comes after you could have figured it out yourself.

Likewise, if colleagues urge you to give up on someone, and your gut tells you there’s real potential, stick with it. Intuition is a wonderful gift. Trust it. I like this blog post on the subject, by Renita Kalhorn.

Then look where you spend time that isn’t directly related to fundraising. You may be burdened by administrative responsibilities or active in professional association committees. Do these really, truly help you raise money? Talk with your boss about reassigning administrative duties. Can you get the benefits of association membership–education and networking–without being on a committee? Committee work takes a heck of a lot of time. I said something about this in a post from March.

Do you wish you had more time for direct fundraising? You won’t find it. We never “find the time.” You have to make it.

You’ve got your own distractions that are more pits than juice. Do what you can to relieve yourself of them and spend your valuable time fundraising.

9 thoughts on “Separate The Juice From The Pits

  1. Terrific, time saving advice for everyone, i would think, and especially for those testing the waters. Thank You.

  2. Copied from my comment regarding Tony’s blog on LinkedIn: “Tony Martignitti’s article about making fundraising time is right on! I have read a lot regarding the three phases of Capital Campaigns. Phase 1) Research; phase 2) Fundraising; and phase 3) Celebration and Thanks. Some consultants discuss the importance of phase 1 so much that it is obvious that is their personal strength and they like working in their personal strength. However, without diminishing the importance of phase 1, research, research and much more research, one must get out from behind their desk and use the research in phase 2, fundraising. The money does not just appear out of thin air because a team focused all their efforts on research and improved on their wonderful donor management system and donor file system. This is exactly why I recommend utilizing the DiSC Survey or another good personality trait survey to ensure that your team is not lop-sided. You need all four main personality traits on your team functioning in their strengths. You want the doer, the relator, the thinker and the extroverted leader. If you have only doers/thinkers at the table your research will be awesome, but your fundraising will fail for lack of action with regards to building relationships. If you have only extroverted leaders/doers your research will be lacking and the fundraising phase will fail because your leader/relators will neglect the research and go to the wrong donors. If you have leader/doers/relators/thinkers all on the team working in their strengths you will have a balance and everything will move forward as long as there are some clear rules of engagement that are placed in the communication dialogue of the team. You need the leader/thinker in order to build vision and mission. You need the doer/relator in order to build the relationships and have fun. You need the thinker/doer to lay out the detailed plan for which to follow. You need the leader/doer in order to keep the momentum so that the team will be moving towards the master plan of success. Finally, you need to have the phase 3, celebration only after the fundraising phase has been completely successful. Do not do this too early because the grant sources will not give you the grant if you break ground on your plan before their money has been secured. When you celebrate, make sure it is planned out like a wedding planner would plan for a wedding. Ultimately you are marrying the donors to the organization so the celebration needs to be that awesome.”

  3. Excellent post! I often call it the “bless and release” approach. When a staff or volunteer has done due diligence with no results, there comes a time when we must realize we have a pit; smart analogy to focus instead on the juice. And of course, there are lots of potential pits. As you mentioned committee work and the administrative drag. I like to tell my clients to be as thoughtful with their committee work opportunities as they are with their donor relationships. They do not have to be mutually exclusive.

    I also liked your link to Mastering Fundraising Relationships post, and I am enjoying the comments thread. Let’s keep the “donor engagement” recipe swap going:

    Nancy Patterson

  4. This is the “gordian knot” of our profession…For those of us with numerous administrative chores and interminable meetings, staying focused on the donor is a daily battle. One little trick, as old as the hills but so very helpful to me, is my “daily 5.” No matter what else is breaking loose around me, I make 5 calls to donors or corporate partners. It’s not always a solicitation; in fact, most times it’s a social call with some action associated with it. Also, at the end of day I try to get out one or two hand-written notes. If I fail to make these little gestures each day, I begin to feel disconnected very quickly.

  5. Thanks Tony. I’m going to share this blog entry. This is a message more EDs need to hear, and act upon.

  6. Thanks for the shout-out, Tony!

    What a, um, pithy analogy — if everyone were as careful about culling the distractions from their day as they are with removing the pits, they’d get more important things done.

  7. Tony
    Once again you are smack on! I was just having a conversation with a nonprofit CEO who said they respond to every offer for everything. I asked if they ever say, “No thank you.” And they said “No, we don’t want to turn down any opportunity.” Focus is so important – people focus, time focus, goal focus. Thanks again for your sage words! Have a great day!

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