If You Plan It, Funds Will Come

The end of the year is nigh. If you read lots of fundraising blogs, they’re all talking about what you should do to end the year on a high note. And the information is mostly all good. But just as you need to consider what you are doing the day AFTER your big event, now is the time to consider how to start next year with a bang.

Assessing how you did this year is always a good place to begin.

Consider how you raised money this past year. Then be honest about how much it raised (that is, what was left over after you subtract real costs—direct and indirect—of the method) and how much effort went into raising that money. Consider who participated.

Was this effort effective? Remember, effectiveness is the number of yeses you received relative to the number of asks you made. If you send out a direct mail piece to 1,000 donors and got 2 returns, it was not terribly effective.

That might not matter if one of the 2 sent you an enormous gift—and was not someone already on your radar. If that person was known to you, the direct mail appeal was probably the least efficient way to raise those dollars (and most likely brought in the lowest gift that donor was inclined to give).

As you look at what you’ve been doing, consider which techniques you want to continue, which you would like to fix—and how you would like to fix them. For example, looking at your direct mail, might you decide to use cross channels to reach people more successfully?

Consider what you are not doing. Look to like sized organizations and consider their fund development activities. Which of the things they are doing would fit into what you want to accomplish? And then consider if these are things you can do.

Do that by determining the resources you have to hand. By resources I mainly mean human resources.

Look to your board. Be realistic—what can and will they do to help? What will they need to do those things?

Consider staff. Now is a great time to remind everyone you work with that fundraising is a job for all. Every single person at your organization must understand fundraising and needs to have an assigned role. That may be as small a thing as ensuring that anyone who may ever answer the phones knows how to answer the phone in an inviting and open manner. They should treat every single caller as if this is the caller who will be gifting $1 million to your organization.

What about your clients? Can they (or–if they are children, animals, or otherwise unable to be relied on for certain types of help–their parents, potential parents, caretakers or friends) be made part of the fundraising process? I would urge to seriously consider how to engage them in your efforts.

What about the broader community? What might it be able to offer?

Once you have a handle on these issues, you can then begin to create your next year’s fundraising plan.

Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity through planning, training, and coaching.  Learn more at http://www.janetlevineconsulting.com.  Contact her and ask for a free 30 minute consultation.


About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at http://courses.lmlearningstation.com/. In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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