This recent New York Times article, Sometimes You Have to Quit to Get Ahead: Winners are just people who know when to quit – and often do, may be an eye-opener for fundraisers and nonprofit executives.
- What do you mean quit soliciting a donor?
- What do you mean stop holding the annual (gala, golf tournament, fundraiser), even if attendance and return on investment has declined 4, or 5 years in a row?
- What do you mean stop sending the same planned giving messaging to all donors?
The article introduces the concept of strategic quitting. No one would suggest that you willy nilly drop a donor, stop holding your fundraising gala, or discontinue planned giving marketing. What the Times article does suggest is that you learn about two concepts:
- Lost Opportunity Cost – Every moment you spend working on X is a moment that you cannot spend doing Y.
For example, if you are the nonprofit ED or lead fundraiser and are buying and delivering water to the annual golf tournament you don’t have time to speak with key donors attending the event. (Which activity to you think has more impact?)
- Sunk Costs – A variation on lost opportunity cost.
What’s the difference? As the article indicates; you “double down” on the amount of time spent thinking that ongoing or increased effort will lead to a different or better outcome. However, as the article states: “For every moment you double down on something that’s not working out, you are forgoing other potentially valuable opportunities.” (Can you ID a time when you doubled down on an activity yet the extra effort didn’t bear fruit?)