Every once in a while, an organization comes to me, hoping that I might be able to wave my magic wand, and provide them with an easy solution to the fundraising challenges they face.
Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of fast fixes you can use to get quick results in the short term.
But truly effective, sustainable fundraising requires organizational commitment, hard work, and a long term view.
Here are some of the most persistent gaps I see holding small shops (and large!) back from fundraising success.
Small organizations may be able to truck along for a while without strong fundraising infrastructure.
Maybe you've found some degree of fundraising success thanks to a charismatic ED, a well-connected board, or you’re a well-loved charity in your local community.
But eventually, lack of infrastructure will catch up with you.
If you're fundraising without a proper donor database (and staff trained to use it!) chances are you’re just filling up an increasingly leaky bucket.
Good data management is fundamental to your fundraising success. Without it, it’s unlikely that you are effectively communicating with and caring for your donors, or accurately tracking and measuring your results.
No matter how small you are, there is a donor database out there for you. Many charge a fairly modest monthly fee based on the number of records in your database.
Don’t shortchange yourself and your donors by struggling by on a jury rigged assemblage of Excel spreadsheets!
All of the above requires investment on the part of your organization. You cannot starve the fundraising function and expect success.
In addition to investing in infrastructure, investing in staff is crucial to your fundraising success.
Perhaps you are too small to afford a full-time fundraising staff person – or fundraising is one of your part or half-time responsibilities.
Decide how many hours a week your will dedicate to your top fundraising priorities – schedule it into your calendar, and keep that commitment to yourself and your donors, no matter what!
If your organization has full-time fundraising staff, make sure they're receiving a competitive salary, and invest in their professional development – it'll pay off significantly in the long run.
Strategy and planning
You have so many demands on your time – sometimes, it feels like you get pulled in so many different directions, you get nothing accomplished.
That’s the reality for a lot fundraisers – you try this new thing and that, chasing the shiny object that your board is really keen on this week, never really getting traction on the stuff that really matters.
A well thought out strategy can help you prioritize your activities, keeping you focused on what raises the most money for your organization.
Please, set aside the time you need to develop an effective strategy – or talk to me about how I can help!
There are no easy shortcuts – but if you effectively address these gaps, you’re on track to achieving truly sustainable fundraising success!