5 less-than-perfect ways to overcome perfectionism

The year-end campaign mails in late January. The results: catastrophically bad. The reason: perfectionism.

I’m sorry to say I’ve seen it happen more than once.

More than that, I’ve watched as perfectionism drained budgets, burned out staff, and delayed projects.

Making mistakes is really awful.

But what it takes to make no mistakes, ever … that’s worse.

Perfectionism can destroy fundraising revenue. And people’s lives as it spirals through organizations.

Here’s some help from the Veritus Group Blog, at Perfectionism Is Hurting Your Fundraising. Some things you can do to overcome harmful perfectionism:

  • Focus on Meaningful, Not Perfect. Everything you do could be just a little bit better. But that little bit rarely moves the needle.
  • Remember, You’re Human (And Your Donors Are Too). Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone knows that everyone makes mistakes. With a few exceptions now and then, people are understanding about your mistakes. (And, let’s be real, most of your mistakes go unnoticed. Even by you.)
  • Assess Where Expectations Are Out of Alignment. Sometimes perfectionism is a group problem. It might be time for a frank look at your organization’s culture and expectations.
  • Recognize the Point of Diminishing Returns. One more round of approvals just might uncover some tiny little problem … but is it worth the delay, the time spent, the lost opportunity?
  • Learn Your Triggers. Strangling perfectionism is often a reaction to stress of some kind. Be mindful of the stressors that send you down the perfectionism path. That’s half the battle.

And remember, no matter how perfectionist you are, mistakes happen anyway!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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