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What doesn’t kill you---Doesn’t kill you.

Updated: Jan 11



I know, I know that is not how it goes.

But, most challenges in my life have taught me a lesson but have not really made me stronger.

As a kid, most of us discovered that if you touch the stove, you do not get stronger. You might have pain and possible scarring and certainly a lesson about touching hot stoves.

As a teenager (at least in Queens in the late 1970’s) I learned a Long Island Iced Tea is not the same as a regular old, iced tea. It did not kill me…Need I say more?

In College, I learned Theatre students have the very best parties. I did remember my lesson about Iced Tea.…but, apparently missed the one about hitchhiking home. While not getting any stronger, I arrived back to my dorm room safe- ahhh a lesson in being lucky.

New Fundraisers touch a lot of stoves. They get burnt and think perhaps they will die (or quit). They say the wrong thing, they get a no, they mispronounce someone’s name, they don’t check their CRM to see if they are clear on a donor’s history---need I go on?

At this moment, I want to talk to all seasoned fundraisers, Development Directors, and alike and remind you when you were new…YOU DID THIS TOO!!

You can never forget the mistakes you made on the way up. They teach you the lessons that help to build your expertise and your career.

There are some “burns” you can avoid with good training and continual coaching.

But first, a quick note before we dive in on one of my favorite suggestions

Permission to coach.

Many of you feel like when you take a new position you are assumed to be coachable. This is not always true and even if it is, still get permission to coach. This gives context to your input and shows your people you are there to make them great.

Back to avoidable burns-

· Teach your new team member how to access information from your CRM as soon as possible. Information (and data) is critical

· Practice…I am not a big believer in scripts-I believe (very strongly) in learning the story of your organization and being able to pivot how you tell it to suit the donor and the situation. Practice the story with your new hire…make sure they know how to tell it in a way that captures people’s interest and engages them into the narrative. Practice, role-play, and REPEAT.

· Talk about the NO’s they receive. Each one holds a lesson…It is not something to be embarrassed by but, something that, dare I say, will make you stronger.

*Sales math and no’s- If you have figured out your closing ratio and you are expecting some no’s AND you have plenty of other opportunities in the funnel-the no’s are easier to take as they are merely stepping stones to YES!

· Encourage your new Fundraiser to start a journal. In that journal encourage them to write down what they did on a visit that worked. Was it a particular question or a way you shared the story of someone your organization helped them to be successful?

It is crucial to write it down for two reasons.

o It helps them commit it to memory so they can use it again

o It serves as a cheat sheet to review before they go on a new visit

And listen.

  • Don’t be the manager looking at their phone during a one-on-ones (or emails) To know me-this is a big pet peeve of mine!

  • Ask questions and listen to the answers

  • Ask what they can do better and different and what you can do to help them continue to grow

  • Discover what makes them feel happy, successful, and secure-what a gift to know this information.

And, if someone is simply a bad hire and not suited for Fundraising even after training and coaching.

- Find an open position within your organization where they will excel

- With dignity and respect- cut them loose to go find something that they are good at. Then give some thought to what you have learned did not work and use that information for future hires.

With 2022 on its way please remember that what doesn’t kill you lets you live and try again with additional knowledge and understanding.


It would be an honor to share our new handout on what to say to your new fundraiser within the first weeks of employment.

We are nonprofit consultants who want to help you succeed

Team Kat & Mouse




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