Failure is all around us.
A bit more than 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years. According to, the failure rate of business startups by industry is:

  • 42% – Finance, insurance, and real estate
  • 44% – Education and health
  • 44% – Agriculture
  • 45% – Services
  • 49% – Mining
  • 51% – Manufacturing
  • 53% – Construction
  • 63% – Information

Depending on what time frame you pick, non-profits are not doing much better. reports that 64% of non-profits that started in 2005 are still operating today. Expand that time frame to 20 years and the “still active” percentage drops to 51%.
The number of ideas it takes to actually come out with a marketable product is 1,250. That means there are 1,249 failures as part of the discovery.
Why am I blathering on about all of this?
To make one point.
Failure and wandering are part of success. And if you’re afraid of failure and wandering in major gifts, you’ll do everything you can do to avoid them – and as a result, you will fail. (Tweet it!)
If you’re in an environment where you are constantly judged about your failures, you need to get out. Seriously. That’s not a good place to be.
The fact is that in major gifts failure is everywhere. Always.

  • Failure to connect with that important donor.
  • Failure to secure the gift you thought you could or would.
  • Failure to reach goals.
  • Failure to have a plan that works like you want it to.
  • Failure to meet your boss’s expectations.
  • Failure to perform like other MGOs on the team.

Goodness, it’s depressing, isn’t it?
…unless you frame the whole thing differently (which you should).
You can focus on the list above and add a few of your own, OR you can simply say to yourself: “This is part of being human and part of life. Failure is part of the discovery and the journey, and I will not let it get me down. I will accept the fact that failure is a doorway to success, and I will keep going. There is nothing wrong with me and what I am doing. I will learn from failures along the way and get better.”
That is what you need to do. Don’t focus on the darkness. Focus on the light. And you will find your way. Jeff and I are really sure about that.