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4th – 6th July 2016

Fundraiser resilience – raise more money by increasing your grit

: Rob Woods

Want to raise more for your cause? Rob Woods explains why it is essential for fundraisers to increasing their 'grit'

For more than a decade I have made it my habit to interview people who get consistently great fundraising results. Their personality traits vary hugely. But one thing has been consistent about every single one, and this is their ability to follow through, that is, to stick to what is important over the long-term. 

Professor Angela Duckworth refers to this quality as ‘grit’. She has spent decades studying how very high achievers succeed, interviewing hundreds of world class athletes, musicians, artists and business-people. And she has found the same character trait crops up in every field. She explains ‘what we accomplish in the marathon of life depends tremendously on our grit – our passion and perseverance for long-term goals’.

In her book Grit – the power of passion and perseverance, Professor Duckworth shows that though most people would agree this quality is important, when we see someone who is outstanding in their sport / business / fundraising area, deep down we usually ascribe their success to their being ‘talented’. She agrees that some talent is always part of the answer, but the side effect of over-focussing on the exciting mystery of ‘talent’ is that we rarely pay enough attention to the importance of grit in every success story (and therefore, potentially, ours).

Rob Woods addressing audience

Why being gritty makes such a big difference

You may be thinking that making your fundraising behaviour more gritty doesn’t sound much fun. Actually, research shows that grittier people are not only more successful, they are also more happy. Just for a moment, remember a time in your career when you have been at your best, caring deeply and finding a way to rise to difficult challenges. My guess is that the periods when you have acted in this gritty way, are the times when you have also felt more fulfilled.

In my Convention session, 'Fundraising Resilience – 7 techniques to increase it', I will give you a chance to find out how gritty (passionate and persevering) you currently are, using Prof Duckworth’s grit scale.

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, your level of grit is not fixed since birth. Excitingly, we can all improve how passionate and persevering we are. So in my session I will reveal techniques to help increase your ability to follow through and so generate fabulous results.

The third pathway to increased grit

Successful gritty fundraisers do four things differently.

The third pathway is purpose. This means the intention to contribute to the well-being of others. A major reason gritty fundraisers are so driven, is they feel their work connects them to something far greater than the self. Even if this was not strong in the beginning (interestingly, it often wasn’t), the longer they stay, they increasingly feel that they’re in part driven by their purpose. Their consistent long-term effort becomes possible because it’s not just about them.

The power of a simple, passion-boosting habit

How can you strengthen this power if currently you don’t feel it? I have found that simple, small shifts can dramatically improve both the drive you feel and your consequent results, and in the session I’ll share seven of them. For example, the book The small BIG reports that when a telephone fundraising team shared stories about their cause at the beginning of their shift, they secured more than twice the number of donations over the phone compared to when they got straight to work. Not bad for an activity that took just ten minutes.

An increased focus on purpose is not the only strategy used by gritty, ultra-successful fundraisers, and I look forward to sharing six more on Tuesday 5th July.

Rob Woods is an award-winning trainer and the author of "The Fundraiser Who Wanted More"

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