I wrote this note to myself in the early days of 2017: “Focus on behavior, not opinions.”
This morning I was searching for a quote for a piece I was working on and out popped: “Focus on behavior, not opinions.” Not what I was looking for. Through the power of my Evernote app, I can tell you where I was and what time I wrote it, but I really don’t know what caused me to write it.
I spent a couple of minutes trying to remember if I was quoting someone. I’m usually pretty careful about attribution so I don’t think it was a quote. I looked on my calendar to see if there were any appointments or meetings that might have sparked it. Nothing jumped out at me.
So while I can’t tell you the context, I can tell you that in fundraising, marketing and probably in life, it’s good advice to “focus on behavior, not opinions.”
If you ask donors if they want you to continue to mail, email and visit them as you have been or do less of what you’re doing, they will usually say, “No, please, save the money. Stop doing what you’re doing. Don’t worry, I’ll keep giving.”
They won’t. They think they will. But they won’t. (Their opinion is they’ll continue to give. Historic evidence says, time after time, that they won’t).
You can find many people with opinions about your fundraising. Step out and ask someone in the hall. They’ll usually know what to do. They’ll say. But how do your donors act? What are the giving patterns?
We can be tragically drawn to the certainty of a strong person’s opinion (or a person’s strong opinion) without regard to the actual facts of behavior.
Confirmation Bias is brutally painful to experience when it leads you down a comfortably, wrong path.
Focus on behavior. Certainly the past doesn’t predict the future. But neither does an opinion. Trust behaviors.
I did find the quote I was originally looking for, but I’m so glad I found this one to remind you and me about behavior.
What do you think? Ever fought the behavior verses opinion battle? I’d love to know what that was like for you.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
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