Act Now: Great Advice

Act-Now-Button-e1373976163113-300x248By trade I am a fundraiser.  For the past 6 years I have worked in various capacities to help the fundraising goals of nonprofit organizations based in New York City and Los Angeles, CA.  Each job has been fulfilling, but each job has also required a lot of effort on my part.

If you haven’t been following my blog for a long time then you probably missed past postings when I wrote about this very personal issue.  I took a break from writing publicly about it because a person in my life told me I shouldn’t.  She said it would prevent me from having career success.  I disagree.

This is basically my head every day!

Not only is OCD protected under the American Disabilities Act so anyone idiotic enough to not hire someone over this disorder is breaking the law, but hiring someone with OCD typically means you are going to hire someone who will get the job done.  I will check everything twice and make sure not to miss a mistake. I can guarantee you that! I remember when I was an Executive Assistant back in 2008.  My boss loved just how much I paid attention to detail.  I was on top of everything and two steps ahead. That led to career growth and I do thank my OCD for part of that.

Regardless, I have decided to lift the moratorium on writing about my OCD. It is who I am and if anyone has a problem with it, then that is a person I don’t want in my life.

My frustration and battle with OCD came to the front of my mind today as I was reading a book titled, Conducting A Successful Major Gifts & Planned Giving Program: A Comprehensive Guide and Resource by Kent E. Dove, Alan M. Spears and Thomas W. Herbert.  In chapter 2 they wrote:

It is better to act, even imperfectly, than to wait forever for the perfect time.

Are they speaking about how to solicit gifts from a Major Donor or are they speaking about how to push past your OCD? It seems appropriate in both cases, although they are obviously talking about how to solicit gifts from Major Donors.

notobsessiveOCD is an issue I face everyday and will continue to face for the rest of my life. Thankfully it hasn’t ever been anything but a positive when it comes to my work, but I do have to fight myself at times to keep moving forward and not get caught up in petty worrying over trivial things.

I consider myself fortunate. According to OCD-UK, a leading national charity in the United Kingdom, independently working with and for almost one million children and adults whose lives are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), there are four main categories a person diagnosed with OCD can fall into:

  • Checking
  • Contamination / Mental Contamination
  • Hoarding
  • Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts

My main issue is the last one as intrusive thoughts can leave me paralyzed. I consider myself fortunate because the other three items, while they apply to me in a lessor degree, are much more intrusive to your day-to-day actions. I can see hoarding, contamination and checking in my behaviors, but not to the extent of intrusive thoughts. While everyone probably can find a bit of these issues in their behaviors and lives OCD-UK says you are diagnosed with OCD when these issues:

  • Take up excessive amounts of your time.
  • Cause significant distress and anguish.
  • Interfere with daily functioning at home, school, or work; or interfere with social activities/ family life/relationships.

100-million-people-ocdWhile I haven’t asked my fiancé if he would say yes, yes, and yes to these things when it comes to me I think he would.  There is no argument from anyone that knows me that I have OCD.

So in fundraising you have a choice.  Do you pick up the phone and call your prospect one week after leaving a message or do you wait? My OCD would have me bouncing multiple thoughts around in my head like, “is it too soon?” “Will I come off as too pushy?” “Did I give this person enough time to call me back?”

Typically, I would tell myself to look at my moves management spreadsheet that perfectly lays out each point of contact I should make with a donor (I know, I OCD’d out on my job and have a detailed plan for everything.  It makes me good at what I do, so I like to think).  This keeps me from getting in my head and wasting time with intrusive thoughts, but today I want to try repeating what is now my favorite mantra:

It is better to act, even imperfectly, than to wait forever for the perfect time.

You can’t win the game sitting on the sidelines.  You just need confidence to dive headfirst into your work.  For a Major Gifts Fundraiser that means you should pick up the phone and call your prospects.  It’s scary! Google Major Gifts Fundraising and you will see just how many fundraisers write into forums, ask questions at webinars and ask questions to experts about how to pick up the phone and make cold calls.  So many fundraisers, new fundraisers in particular, are often asking if there is another way.

Sadly for those of you who hate the phone, there is no other way.  If you want to be successful you have to pick up the phone and start trying to make connections with your donors.  There is no better time to act than now.

I’m going to start acting and not hanging on my thoughts in every aspect of my life. It’s not as big of an issue when it comes to my work, but I have to say that this fundraising book really is helpful with life as well in some very small ways.

If you are looking for a quick and easy read full of helpful tips for Major Gifts Fundraising I also suggest you check out the book Opening the Door to Major Gifts by John Greenhoe, CFRE.