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8 Secrets of Savvy Donors

8 Secrets of Savvy Donors

You’re generous and kind. You care about other people and want to help them have great lives. You want to make a positive impact on the world and give from your heart to worthy causes. You’re a great person!

Yet there’s a niggling feeling of doubt at the back of your head when you donate. How do you know that you’re giving to the right causes? How do you know that you’re giving the right amount and at the right time? How do you know that your generous gifts of time and money actually have the kind of impact you want on the world? Truly savvy donors don’t have that doubt. They are confident that they give to the right causes, the right amount, and that they are getting what they paid for with their generosity and kindness. They are super-donors!

What are their secrets? They still listen to their heart – that’s why they want to give in the first place – but they combine the heart and the head to give effectively. You can be a savvy super-donor too, and be truly confident that you’re making the best decisions with your giving by learning their secrets.

1. Be Intentional

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    Knowledge is power! Super-donors are intentional about figuring out their aims and strategies for giving. They take the time to sit down and decide what goals they want to achieve through their generosity. They think about the kind of impact they want to have in the world. They decide what causes are most important to them – poverty, disease, animal welfare – and rank them by order of importance. Now, this ranking can  be quite difficult to achieve, and there’s no right answer. Listen to your heart and see what feels right to you. For some help, you can turn to Giving What We Can, which helps provide guidance on one’s giving. Follow this strategy, and you’ll know that you are giving to the causes that are right for you!

    2. Listen To Yourself

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      Another secret tactic that super-donors use to give to the right causes is to make sure to listen to themselves above everyone else. They know that they themselves should determine their giving decisions. While they don’t let anyone dictate to them what to do, they listen to and consider the opinions of others, and shift their mental maps of reality based on new information they did not know before. Indeed, super-donors are masters at changing their minds with appropriate evidence. However, the key is that they do so for their own reasons, not to please others.

      3. Budget Well

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        There are so many great causes out there that you can’t reasonably contribute to all of them. Super-donors prevent that problem by preparing a giving budget! They decide in advance how much resources they want to spend, of both time and money. They distribute their resources to the causes they outlined above by order of importance to themselves. If you do so yourself, you’ll be confident that you are giving the right amount!

        4. Plan Ahead

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          Super-donors plan their giving in advance. They know that most people tend to give during the winter holidays, but charities need money throughout the year. So they time their giving to counter the “holiday effect.” They also know that charities most benefit from monthly donors who automate monthly donations from their bank accounts or credit cards. Monthly donors enable charities to plan ahead themselves and make the most effective use of each dollar. Another benefit of monthly donations is that the super-donors get to feel positive emotions every month when they get a warm thank-you note from the non-profit. Since both giving and experiencing gratitude are science-based strategies for improving happiness, super-donors are happier! By using this strategy, you can ensure that you are giving at the right time, for your own happiness and satisfaction, and for the charities to which you give.

          5. Be Flexible

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            Super-donors are flexible about their giving. They know that their resources change over time in unexpected ways. For example, they might get an unexpected bonus, and decide they have more to give each month. However, they might be laid off and then have less money to give, but more time. They revise their giving budget and plan to make sure it aligns with their resources and priorities. You can commit to giving something every month but allow yourself to change this plan as your circumstances change. Doing so will enable you to make sure you keep giving the right amount and at the right time, no matter what happens.

            6. Be Smart

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              You’re a smart shopper. You don’t buy the first thing you see on television or in the store window. You take the time to gain confidence that you’ll get what you want, for example by reading reviews from well-known websites. Similarly, super-donors don’t give to the first charity that puts a commercial on television, or has volunteers going door-to-door or standing in the street and asking for money. In fact, super-donors know that the charity that spends its money on commercials and volunteer time on gathering donations is not using those resources to make an impact in the world. Super-donors read reviews of charities by reputable charity evaluators. For example, GiveWell provides extensive research and makes recommendations for the kind of charities that make the most powerful and positive impact on the world in various cause areas. The Life You Can Save provides not only recommendations, but also an Impact Calculator that can help you see right away what kind of impact your giving can make! Using such tactics will help you make sure that you make the impact you want on the world with your generosity and kindness.

              7. Be Effective

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                You can also gain confidence about your shopping decisions by talking to other smart shoppers. Those shoppers are generally glad to give you advice – they feel good helping you make wise shopping decisions and get to share their knowledge! Similarly, you can talk to super-donors to ensure that your generous donations are going to the best place. More broadly, they can share lots of strategies for being a super-donor. To talk to super-donors, in-person or online, simply out the phrase “Effective Altruism” into a search engine. Effective Altruists practice the strategies described above, and have many in-person and virtual forums where they discuss effective giving. They form community groups centered around being a super-donor and would be happy to share about their strategies for being super-donors with you!

                8. Be Proud

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                  Super-donors are not only committed to giving intentionally, but also proud of doing so! They spread this message of the benefits of being a super-donor to others they know. They know that doing so helps other people have better lives by getting rid of that niggling doubt at the back of their heads, and also channels their giving in the most effective fashion. Following this strategy, for example by wearing t-shirts such as the one above, starting conversations with friends and family, as well as sharing this article with others, can help you multiply the kind of positive impact you have on the world!

                  Featured photo credit: Businesswoman via flickr.com

                  More by this author

                  Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

                  President and Co-Founder at Intentional Insights; Disaster Avoidance Consultant

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                  Last Updated on October 18, 2018

                  10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

                  10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

                  When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

                  Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

                  People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

                  These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

                  1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

                  Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

                  To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

                  Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

                  When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

                  Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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                  2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

                  Things go wrong when you run your own business.

                  Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

                  Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

                  Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

                  Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

                  If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

                  3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

                  Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

                  As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

                  Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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                  After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

                  Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

                  He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

                  4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

                  No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

                  It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

                  You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

                  Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

                  An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

                  5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

                  You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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                  As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

                  Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

                  Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

                  You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

                  6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

                  In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

                  Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

                  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
                  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
                  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

                  By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

                  7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

                  Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

                  As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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                  8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

                  No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

                  Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

                  9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

                  Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

                  If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

                  10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

                  Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

                  Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

                  If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

                  The Bottom Line

                  Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

                  Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

                  Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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