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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Fundraisers

The Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers (AFRDS) asked a number of fundraising professionals and experienced volunteers what they thought were the most important traits an individual/group should possess to be successful at fund-raising.

Here's their list, which coincides nicely with Stephen Covey' well-known theories detailed in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

1. Be proactive.
Motivated fundraisers are successful fundraisers. Truly motivated volunteers never wait to be asked. They're often the first to identify the fact that the playground needs repair or the media center needs more books. Likewise, they're usually the first to take action to meet those needs.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
Successful fundraising projects and the people who drive them are supremely goal-oriented. They are, from beginning to end, focused on the reason why the group is fundraising and take every opportunity to remind volunteers of why they are fundraising.
3. Put first things first.
Strong organizational skills, including the ability to set priorities without losing track of the details, are one of the most common traits found in successful fundraising chairpersons. Good math skills and comfort in handling money also are important.
4. Think win-win.
Successful fundraising programs have at their core a trusting relationship between the volunteer at the helm of the fundraising drive and the company/company representative with whom they are working. It's what Covey describes as the "you help me, I help you" concept. If the fundraising sponsor and the professional they've hired both believe in this concept, the group will benefit.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
When problems arise (and they always do), it's great if the person at the helm is unflappable with good people skills. Effective fundraising chairs are good listeners and, therefore, excellent communicators and problem solvers.
6. Synergize.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts; therefore, successful fundraising coordinators are good at team-building and understand the importance of a diverse committee. Work to make sure that each member's strengths offset the weaknesses of others, with a good mix of new and experienced volunteers.
7. Sharpen the saw.
Exhausted volunteers are commonplace. To stay fresh, keep a good balance between the professional, family and volunteer parts of your life. Heading up a fundraising drive can be time-consuming. Prepare for it. And, always have a backup someone in training ready to take over when your job is done.

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