Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” has been a must read for as long as I can remember. There's a good reason to read it.
If you haven't had time until now, here’s a quick synopsis specially tailored for Jewish leaders involved in fundraising.
Habit 1: Proactivity
What’s proactivity? In Covey’s words, it’s “recogniz[ing] your responsibility to make things happen.”
Which is what leadership is all about.
In fundraising, proactively making efforts to move opportunities forward, or to pursue new opportunities, can wildly boost your success levels.
So - how proactive are you? Do you spend a lot of valuable energy being reactive? Or do you go out and make things happen?
And, if being proactive is a challenge for you, why? What’s getting in the way of you raising your proactivity levels? Anything you can do about it?
Habit 2: Beginning with the End in Mind
When it comes to your fundraising, you’re putting lots of hard work into many different tasks and projects.
Before going into them, do you ever stop to ask yourself, “What outcome do I want from this meeting/interaction/marketing effort/event/program?”
Why ask that question? Because having that clarity going in means you won’t just work hard; you’ll work with much more focus and direction. And more easily achieve outcomes you’re happy with.
Habit 3: First Things First
Essentially, Habit 3 is the ability to take action.
In fundraising, we know that isn’t something to take for granted. Inertia has a way of taking control and keeping us from moving forward.
When it does, do two things.
First, remember your desired outcome from Habit 2.
Then, ask yourself: “What do I need to do next to get to that outcome?”
And then - do something. Even if you don’t have total clarity on your next step, getting yourself moving is key to eventually reaching that goal.
Habit 4: Win-Win
“Win-win comes from an abundance mentality. Win-win grows out of high trust relationships.”
According to Covey, highly effective people aren’t just in it for themselves. They attempt to make sure others win along with them.
Highly effective fundraisers are the same way. You don’t just want the best for your organization. You also want what’s best for your donors. (See Michtav M’Eliyahu vol. 3, pg. 91).
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
People who are always telling other people what they think, without leaving space for others’ opinions, don’t develop productive relationships.
Productive relationships are made when you keep quiet and truly make an effort to understand another’s perspective before sailing in with yours. When you really try to understand them as a person. Their values. What’s driving their thinking.
When building donor relationships, this attitude is crucial.
Let them do most of the talking. And as they talk, really listen. Listen for their values. For the motives behind their thinking. Show empathy - and mean it.
That’s how you nurture open, trusting relationships - the kinds that lead to fantastic outcomes.
Habit 6: Synergize
Synergizing is like collaborating, but on a different level.
It requires you to open yourself up to the possibilities in the people you’re working with.
When a leader can accept the possibility that one plus one can equal more than two, and put himself in the vulnerable position of collaborator, he’ll probably see far better outcomes than if he held himself aloof as the top decision-maker.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Who is the saw? You, of course.
You are your greatest asset. And, in Covey’s words, “the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life” is constant investment in ourselves.
You might be new to leadership. You might have been leading multiple mosdos for decades.
Either way, investing in yourself - and, in this case, your fundraising prowess - is always a smart choice. Because the most successful people are lifelong learners.
Find a mentor. Hire a coach. Read. Build self-education into your every day.
Yes, you’ll spend a little money, a little time. But you’ll see incredible returns on your investment - in your fundraising, your leadership, and your life.
There you have it - the famous Seven Habits summarized and tailored to your needs.
What’s one thing you can do this week to strengthen yourself in one of these habits?