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At a recent training on Donor Stewardship, a very hard-working JDS development professional was frustrated.  “I send Purim packages each year to our big donors, but  I never hear if they enjoyed our gift to them. We continue to do this every year, but we get no feedback!”

This comment made me think about incorporating mindfulness into our development work.  In the over-committed and often overwhelming development office, there is rarely time to think and reflect. Here are 5 ways you can start using reflective practices to increase the effectiveness of your school’s fundraising efforts:

  1. Re-evaluate. If you don’t know if what you are doing is working, take a step back and re-evaluate. In the scenario above, why not check in with donors to learn what they want to feel connected to the school. Maybe a gift is not important but a phone call from a board member on what is going on in the school would be more appreciated. Make sure that what you are doing for donors is what they need, not what you think is valuable.
  2. Take time to look at your data!  Reviewing your donor lists on a regular basis can re-energize you with new prospects to consider.
  3. Plan your fundraising events with a an eye towards cultivating  and stewarding donors.  Yearly events planned to raise needed dollars for the school are so often planned, by necessity, via checklists, overlooking how these events can support current donors and cultivate prospects. Take a step back from the logistics-maybe asking a volunteer to brainstorm with you.
  4. Speaking of volunteers, can you gather a group of people together as an ad hoc think tank to help you make your case to the community?  Can someone write an article about the school for their synagogue newsletter or local Jewish newspaper? I have found that there are people who are not necessarily affiliated with the school that can be helpful in bringing fresh thinking to how the school can present itself as an important part of the Jewish community.
  5. Take the time to evaluate.  After each campaign or event, think and reflect.  What went well that can be repeated? What are the next steps?

Step back and re-think your development practices-your fundraising may just be more effective!