I Hope You’re Pleased with Yourself

I Hope You’re Pleased with Yourself


12 December 2023


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


I hope you’re pleased with yourself.

I know that sounds critical, but I’m being serious. This is the time of the year when all the work you’ve put in really pays off. Every day brings a new snowfall of letters and cards, most of which include small tokens of financial support and joy. The act of giving feels good, and actively supporting an organization doing work one believes in feels good, too. Those good feelings are enclosed with each check. It’s harder to feel with electronic forms of payment, but it’s there. Look for it. Trust it.

And then take a long moment to exhale. Be pleased. These are the fruits of your labor. And you’ve done a good job.


One good practice to keep in mind for 2024 is to predict what will happen. Feeling good about your work in December is important, but quantifying the good during the year is important, too. Not everything you did worked, of course. Not everything turned out the way you thought it would. And some things you did exceeded your expectations.

I’ve written before about numbers being meaningless abstractions. (See All Numbers are GUILTY Until Proven Innocent.) But put together in context, with numbers representing what you thought would happen, can be extremely helpful.

Consider your appeal. The idea that you got 243 responses is meaningless by itself. If you were expecting 250, you fell just short. Meh. But if you were expecting 200, you blew the goal out of the water!

So the practice – the discipline – is to predict what will happen for each fundraising activity. [Note that this discipline is about predicting what will actually happen. Not about wishing and hoping. The idea is to get better at predicting.]

  • How many people will come to the [Gala, field trip, house party, open house]?
  • How many people will respond to each [appeal letter, email request, Giving Tuesday program]?
  • How many donors will increase their giving this year? How many will we lose completely?
  • If we ask for $100 instead of $50, how much more money will we raise? How many fewer responses will we get?
  • If we ask this specific person for $50,000, how much will they say yes to? What do we think will happen?


And then, what can we learn from the results? Did the activity meet our expectations? Or were we surprised? Should we rinse and repeat next year? Or do we need to think about next year differently? And can we use what we’ve learned to meet our short-term and long-term organizational goals next year?

Put more simply, if we stay on this same path, will we get where we need to go?


In an interview with a donor recently, she quipped that “we are all victims of our own experience.” This is only true to the extent we stop being curious. We won’t be victims if we are always looking to learn. We can start that learning process by quantifying what we THINK will happen before launching each activity.


But here’s my point: Comparing what actually happened to what you thought would happen is an important component of learning. Of getting better. Of being better able to meet your fundraising goals for next year. It’s NOT about beating yourself up for all the things you didn’t do or that didn’t work.

AND regardless of the goal, and regardless of the expectations, you can and should still look around now and feel good about what you have helped make happen. Some of it (MOST of it) would not have happened without your work.

Take a long moment to be pleased with yourself. These are the fruits of your labor.

And you’ve done a good job.



Cheers, and have a great week!




PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.


Photo by Sergio Cerrato – Italia courtesy Pixabay



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