The most popular posts of 2019

A man in a suit looks up at a giant in a suit

One New Year’s Eve, I was getting a little pampering at my favourite salon, when all of a sudden my phone rang.

Our biggest donor’s name popped up on call display.

The good news? She had an unexpected extra donation for us!

The bad news? She was heading out the door in 30 minutes, and I had to go pick it up, stat.

I’ll spare you the details, but it involved me tearing across town in a cab with half a haircut…

I hope you’re having a less stressful last few days of the year!

If you're like me, you’ll be doing a bit of reading and reflecting this time of year - that’s why I wanted to share a recap of the articles that resonated most with fundraisers like you in 2019.

Speaking of reflecting, at lot of my writing this year has been looking back on lessons I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, and things I would have done differently.

But as someone reminded me this morning…

It’s not failure - it’s feedback!

1) One thing I wish I’d done sooner in my fundraising career

I started fundraising 24 years ago (almost to the day!) It was 1995, and if this was before your time, I’ll define this period by saying this is the year the Macarena went viral (and we haven’t gotten rid of it since - thanks a lot, 1995!) Back then, I was wearing several hats at a small national charity, and I had some great tools in my fundraising toolbox, including direct mail, special events and telemarketing. (It was analogue all the way - no digital campaigns back then, we were all still figuring out how to work email!) These were effective ways to fundraise back then - and chances are, some or all of these tried and true tactics are still in your fundraising mix today. But there was one important thing missing, and it took me almost 5 years to realize... 2) How to fundraise like an entrepreneur

Most of the successes in my fundraising career – and many of the times I fell flat on my face – are down to one thing.

I’m an entrepreneur, through and through.

While our sector hasn’t always embraced the entrepreneurial fundraiser with open arms, I think having this mindset will set you apart in the future, as fundraising continues to become more creative, more challenging and more competitive.

I believe we all have some entrepreneur in us – and if you can cultivate the positive attributes, and manage the more (ahem) hazardous characteristics, you’ll see a huge impact on your fundraising.

In this post, I share three dos - and one don’t! - to help you embrace your entrepreneurial side, and use those great qualities to raise more money for your great cause.

3) The fundraising lesson I learned the hard way

It was ten years ago when I realized something was terribly wrong.

We were heading into the make-or-break last 8 weeks of the year at the small shop where I was leading fundraising.

And in every phone call, meeting, letter and e-mail, I heard the same devastating news.

"I’m sorry…we’ve had to cut back”.

“It’s just not in the budget this year.”

“We’ve had to reallocate our spending…”

The 2008 financial crisis had hit us hard.

I didn’t know it then, but by the end of the year, we’d lose close to 50% of one of our biggest sources of fundraising revenue…

4) Are you making these 5 common mistakes with your case for support?

If you want to begin securing more 5, 6 or even 7-figure gifts, individual donors need to be presented with giving opportunities that inspire a bigger investment. Ultimately, if you want a $1M donation, you need to be presenting donors with a million dollar vision!

Developing a compelling case for support that outlines aspirational opportunities for giving is one of the most important steps you will take to support your fundraising growth.

But there are a few common things that tend to trip us up when it comes to building a compelling case for support – in this post, I look at five of the most common case mistakes made by even the most seasoned fundraiser (including yours truly!).

5) 4 simple steps to raise more money by qualifying your donors

Want to raise more money for your amazing cause?

If you’re an organization with even a small established donor base, chances are there are donors already giving to you who are interested in making a greater investment in your organization.

I was recently working with a client on a major gift project, when we discovered that their most dedicated donors had the capacity to give 8 times more than they were currently being asked for.

If you want to build your major gift program, you need to grow your pipeline - and the first place to start is by qualifying those generous donors who are already giving to you to explore their interest in developing a deeper relationship with you and your organization.

The idea of qualifying donors is something that seems to be shrouded in mystery - but in reality, it’s a simple process that can be followed by any fundraiser – even if you’re a smaller shop.

In this post, I share the 4 simple steps you need to take to raise more money by qualifying your individual donors.

Ok, that’s all from me!

Whatever you’re doing as the year winds down, I wish you all the best. You’ve worked so hard this year raising money for your great cause, and I hope you too will get some time to rest and recharge, so you’re back better than ever in 2020!

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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