If you’ve read any of our “We Are So Much More” posts, you know that the TriWives do a lot of work with non-profit organizations. Fundraising happens to come with the territory, but for the majority of us, it is the most painstaking part. It just seems to be so difficult to either ask people to donate to your organization or to get others, such as board members, to do the asking. But, it doesn’t have to be.
I have had the distinct pleasure of working with a fundraising professional, Joe Garecht, of The Fundraising Authority for some time now. Joe has been involved in this world as a consultant for many years and one of his goals is to help non-profits fund work that matters. We love that philosophy. Joe has graciously agreed to let us share with you some of his articles to help make your fundraising efforts more effective AND not quite as painful. We thought this would be the perfect piece to start off the New Year.
4 Ways to Make Your Fundraising Plans for Next Year Better and More Effective
by JOE GARECHT
For non-profits, the end of the year is often a time for reflecting on what worked and what didn’t during the previous year, and laying plans for the year to come. It’s vitally important that our organizations make plans that not only inspire, but that also lay out an effective fundraising strategy for our team to follow.
Whether you’re writing a whole new fundraising plan for the coming year, or simply setting up some basic goals for the next twelve months, here are four quick tips for better and more effective development planning:
#1 – Set Defined Goals and Responsibilities
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure fundraising success over the coming year… make sure that your plans include defined goals and responsibilities. Your plan needs to say exactly what you’d like to do, and who is responsible for doing it.
Thus, instead of saying, “we’d like to increase event revenue this coming year,” say, ”we will increase revenue at our annual gala by 10% this year. We will do so by following strategy X, Y, and Z. Staff member A will be responsible for implementing these strategies.” Goals and responsibilities increase accountability, they make expectations clear to staff, volunteers and board members, and they allow you to correct course if milestones aren’t met.
#2 – Test at Least One New Tactic
When it comes to development, does your organization do the same things year after year after year? Do you hold the same events, do the same mailings, have the same communications strategy?
This year, try at least one new thing. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. Test your donors’ response so you know for sure. If it works this year, keep it for next year. If not, then discard it and try something else. Trying something new each year adds variety for donors and prospects and helps you to keep growing your fundraising network. For more on trying and testing new tactics, read Analyzing Fundraising Strategies through the 80/20 Principle.
#3 – Don’t Have Sacred Cows
Many non-profits have “sacred cows,” events, mailings, campaigns or other fundraising activities that they have been doing for years, and continue to do just because everyone expects them to. Unfortunately, as often as not, non-profits could be making far more money with far less hassle by moving on to a new tactic.
The end of the year is a great time for your organization to take a look at the facts. Go over the revenue numbers, consider how much time is spent on each tactic, and decide on an item by item basis whether each fundraising tactic, strategy and event is worth keeping. Ending that yearly event or monthly small-dollar fundraiser might be hard… but if your non-profit can raise more money by switching to something else, you owe it to those you serve to make the hard decision.
#4 – Figure Out How to Visualize Your Goals
One thing I like to do is to create a way to visualize an organization’s fundraising goals and progress for the year. This can be done whether you are a one-person shop, visualizing for yourself… or a large development team visualizing for the entire group.
For example, if your goal for the year is to find 100 new prospects, put up a chart on a whiteboard so that you can track weekly, monthly, and yearly contacts with new potential supporters. If your goal as a team is to make 20 planned giving asks per month, put up a monthly thermometer that tracks the number of asks you have made.
Visualizing your progress towards your fundraising goals helps keep everyone focused and motivated.
Photo Credit: Juhan Sonin
- Effective Time Management for Non-Profit Managers
- How to Renew and Upgrade 95%+ of Your Event Sponsors Year After Year
- How to Do Year-End Fundraising the Right Way (Part II)
- How to Do Year-End Fundraising the Right Way (Part I)
- Case Study: How One Non-Profit Turned Their Fundraising Around through Better Planning
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Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.