This article in The Atlantic, “The Power of Good Enough,” is one of those articles that I’ve reread several times since I first saw it. The article talks about choices and how people who choose things that are “good enough” are generally happier and more satisfied than people who are always searching for “the best.”
What do “good enough” choices have to do with fundraising?
How much time do you spend at work trying to make choices—and specifically trying to find the best thing? Maybe it’s where to hold your next fundraising event? Which mobile giving app to use? Which version of your organizational history to include in the grant proposal that’s due next week?
If you would like to be happier and more satisfied in your job – and I would argue more successful – it’s time to start choosing “good enough” solutions!
Why might avoiding a search for “the best,” be the best possible option? One word: time. Time is valuable – especially in the nonprofit sector where there are so many balls to juggle. Plus, as stated by the psychologist-author halfway through The Atlantic article, "'Good enough' is almost always good enough."
Here are 3 ways you can use the concept of “good enough” to take some pressure off and use your time more wisely and efficiently:
Avoid primary research; phone a friend.
There are common fundraising strategies employed by most nonprofits. We are all writing grants, hosting events, managing databases, running year-end direct mail campaigns, promoting online giving, etc. When you must choose a tool to implement one of these strategies, don’t start with a Google search. Instead, ask trusted colleagues for advice.
For example, development colleague Jane was searching for a mobile giving platform for her organization’s next event. Her first step was to call three friends with mobile giving experience. Jane had a 20-minute conversation with each friend about a different platform. After a total time-investment of one hour, Jane chose the platform that sounded best for her organization.
Was the chosen platform the very newest and best with the most bells and whistles? No. Did it get the job done at Jane’s event? Yes. And at the end of the day, that’s what mattered most.
Keep a list of go-to resources and use them repeatedly.
Development colleague Ted used to spend a lot of time on Open Table trying to get reservations at the hottest restaurants in town to impress a major donor prospect. This took A LOT of time. After considering the time/value trade off, Ted now has a list of five restaurants he visits consistently for lunch with board members, or for donor prospect meetings.
Are these restaurants the trendiest places? No. But their food is very good and the atmosphere encourages conversation—even better than a trendy, crowded and loud restaurant could do. They are “good enough” to help Ted accomplish his objective – engaging with people over a meal to further develop the relationship to benefit his organization.
Set a time limit.
When writing a solicitation letter, a long email, or a section of a grant proposal, development colleague Kate no longer gives herself “however long it takes” to get it done. Kate sets a time limit. She knows from experience she can write a “good enough” letter of inquiry to a grant funder in about an hour.
Will it be Pulitzer Prize winning prose? No, but it will be clear and concise and will hit on all key messages. If Kate spends another 30 minutes editing and re-editing and trying to make the proposal perfect, would it sway the funder’s opinion of her organization? It’s unlikely that the “perfect” edits will matter in the end—and remember, there is no such thing as perfect!
So Kate doesn’t bother. She sends off the “good enough” letter and guess what, it usually works to move her organization forward.
Bottom line: Not only will these strategies help save you time, according to The Atlantic article, you might also be happier and more satisfied. And who doesn’t want more of that?
What are your thoughts on “good enough” vs. “the best?” Please share your thoughts, tips and advice in the Comments box below!
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