SOS! 3 signs your fundraising may be suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome

Are you worn out by your organization’s habit of chasing the latest and greatest fundraising ideas?

Are you being pulled this way and that, bounced between an ever-changing assortment of fundraising activities and events, but never able to stick with them long enough to see real results?

If this sounds familiar, your organization may be suffering from a bad case of SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome).

Don’t worry – SOS doesn’t have to be terminal if you take the right steps to address it!

Here are three telltale symptoms that Shiny Object Syndrome may be getting in the way of your success – and what steps you need to take to cure it once and for all.

Decisions are driven by tactics, rather than strategy

Often, when I first meet a new client, their questions focus on different techniques they could use to raise more money for their cause:

“We want to start a crowdfunding campaign – what platform should we use?”

“Nobody’s heard of us – should we start a social media campaign to raise awareness?”

“We need to find more people to support us – what is the best way for us to acquire new donors?”

Crowdfunding, donor acquisition vehicles and social media campaigns are all tactical – and don’t get me wrong, choosing the right fundraising tactics are a crucial part of building a sustainable, successful fundraising program.

However, your fundraising tactics need to be serving a larger fundraising strategy, which in turn needs to be serving and supporting the mission and vision of your organization.

When we lack an overarching, cohesive fundraising strategy to focus our efforts, it’s easy to get pulled off track by a bad case of Shiny Object Syndrome.

You don’t have a solid foundation of the tried and true

Does you organization poo-poo direct mail in favour of pursuing a hot new bitcoin fundraising initiative?

Uh oh.

If you have significant gaps in your fundraising foundation, and are focusing on innovation at the cost of best practice basics, it may be SOS!

Of course, no one size fits all when it comes to fundraising – but if you don’t have one or more of:

a) a wildly successful individual giving program with above average donor retention rates;

b) a stellar corporate partnership program; and/or

c) a fabulous track record with foundation grants

...then chances are, there are better ways you could be spending your time.

Your aren't able to stick with ideas long enough to see results

If you’re going to be successful in fundraising, you need to play the long game.

Success can feel like it takes ages, especially when it comes to fundraising that has the greatest potential for transformational donations, like major gifts and bequests.

If your organization is trying and dropping new fundraising ideas like they’re hot potatoes, it may be Shiny Object Syndrome.

Developing agreed upon, realistic measures of success are an important part of your SOS-proof fundraising strategy. What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’re measuring, over what period of time?

For example, measuring the success of an investment in a new donor acquisition mailing looks completely different than measuring the success of a one-time holiday mailing to your loyal donors.

Always make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to determining your fundraising KPIs.

The ultimate cure for SOS

Your fundraisers, senior staff and board all need to be pulling in the same direction – and to achieve this, they need to have the opportunity to buy into your organization’s fundraising vision.

One of the most effective cures for SOS is working collaboratively with all levels of your organization to develop a focused and cohesive fundraising strategy – and to demonstrate how this strategy is going to serve in furthering your organization’s mission to change the world.

Carving the time out to engage these stakeholders in the process of developing an effective fundraising strategy and plan can feel challenging – but think of how much time you’ll save in the long run if you’re able to start focusing on the fundraising that matters most, instead of chasing the latest shiny object!

Hi! I'm Emma Lewzey. I’ve been helping great causes like yours build and grow successful fundraising programs since 1995. Do you suspect that you could be raising much more money, much more effectively? Contact me to book your free discovery session, and start exploring how you can strategically focus your precious resources on the fundraising initiatives that truly work.

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