3 signs you’re playing small in your fundraising

A small lego toy person in red stands on a countertop

“Are you playing small?”

This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately…

When I find myself shying away from a challenging new opportunity…

Or hesitating to say yes to a big project that pushes me out of my comfort zone…

It’s a question I’ve found very powerful - and I think you’ll find it powerful too.

So, let me ask you this:

Are you playing small in your fundraising?

Here are 4 signs that it may be time to start thinking bigger!

1. The last time your organization tried something new was 1995.

Ok, this first one is a little tongue in cheek – but the reality is, we can find ourselves frozen in time if we’re playing small with our fundraising.

Doing what works is great, and having a strong foundation of tried and true tactics that serve an effective, overarching strategy will always make for successful fundraising.

But if you find yourself doing the exact same things, year after year, never testing new channels, never experimenting with new ideas…

You might be playing small with your fundraising.

2. When you want to increase revenue, you plan another event.

Events can be a great part of a healthy, well-balanced fundraising program.

However, if your organization defaults to planning a special event every time you want to raise more money, that’s a sign you may be playing small!

There a comfort level around events that’s related to their transactional nature: you pay me for a ticket, and I provide you with food, wine, entertainment – there, we’re even!

It feels easier to many fundraisers and board members to sell a gala table than to ask for a philanthropic gift for your mission.

Could you be using events as a substitute for growing a healthy major gift program?

You guessed it…it could be a sign you’re playing small!

3. When you need to reach a donor, you send an email.

We were just talking about the 500lb phone last week…

All of us can do a better job of stretching out of our comfort zones to use the phone more often to build relationships with our donors.

When it comes to communicating with donors, do you default to what feels most comfortable, instead of what’s most effective?

You can always start playing bigger by taking small steps!

Why not pick up the phone right now and make a couple of impromptu donor thank you calls?

Where do you think you might be playing small in your fundraising – and what small action could you take right now to start getting big gifts for your mission?

Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)

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