Fundraising Strategies for 2011


Resolutions for next year’s fundraising and thoughts about this year
I know that this might not be the end of the fiscal year for you, but hopefully the moolah is pouring in, and you are probably taking stock of where you are compared to last year. You’re also -probably setting some goals, even though they may already be written in your strategic plan and in your performance goals, and you may even be showing these goals on a big thermometer or dashboard. Here is my holiday suggestion for celebrating and planning:

IF you made more than last year…
    $    You are a genius
    $    The right person died
    $    Someone isn’t counting correctly
    $    You got board training (maybe from moi!)
    $    You deserve champagne, or the carbohydrate of your choice

IF you brought in the same as last year…
    $    You are working like a dog
    $    You have a great relationship with your donors
    $    You have an engaged board
    $    New sources of funds were explored and mined
    $    You deserve a gin and tonic (will keep you from getting
          malaria and rickets if served with lime) and a tasty dog biscuit

IF you are around 12% below last year…
    $    You are doing the same as the top 400 national charities, and
          are in good company
    $    You are using the same solid methods that worked in the past
    $    Your board might be putting pressure on you, but not on each
    $    New plans are being explored but not yet implemented
    $    It’s time for a white wine spritzer and a bowl of mixed nuts

IF you are off more than 30% from last year…
    $    You might live in one of the many places in the U.S. that have
          been clobbered by the economy; i.e. Detroit, Las Vegas, and
          many parts of the Gulf Coast; your community has more need
          and less money
    $    Your donors are stressed and you may have been asking them
          for more; if you haven’t been getting more, perhaps they don’t
          have it, or you aren’t acknowledging their position
    $    Your board is burned out; they are trying to run a marathon at
          a sprinters speed; they need care, kindness and support when
          you are the most stressed; a job with unlimited free fries is
          staring to look good
    $    All plans feel like they were written in invisible ink and don’t
          make any sense; everyone is second-guessing you
    $    It’s time to cry in your beer, have a pity party, and then get to

Every year, I start with planning on more diet and exercise. I find these two a soothing transition to beginning every new year. For your organization to keep the doors open, serve your clients and prosper, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Celebrate what you did accomplish in 2010. It’s been a rough year for everyone. You are still in business.
  2. Plan an education program for the board and staff. You can’t sell what you don’t know. Start every board meeting with “a mission moment.” Educate the staff on how other groups are accomplishing your mission. Get committees together to work on it and get it off your plate. Build some internal capacity.
  3. As a nonprofit leader, educate yourself. Great books to read, with totally conflicting messages that will leave you scratching your head and mesmerized: The Pollyanna Principle by Hildy Gottlieb and Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta. One is a crunchy granola communitarian approach to our sector, the other is totally Ayn Rand capitalism.
  4. Get a mentor. I have a social media mentor who is a med student. I helped her write her Bats Mitzvah speech years ago. I am mentoring a planned giving officer with marketing her professional speaking business. She is helping me with my estate planning. It doesn’t always have to be reciprocal. Dig in your pocket and pay someone for help. It’s time to get better.
  5. Plan to educate your board in fundraising. If you have the money, bring me or someone else in to train them. Buy copies of “Transforming Ordinary People into Fundraising Superheroes” for every board member and train them yourselves. And remember, I do 12 pro bono gigs a year and there is still space available for 2011. Learn more here
  6. Spend some time with people away from work and relax. You can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself.


1 Comment »

  1. Jim DeRosa said

    Nice article. This certaily lays out the options quite well.

    Jim DeRosa

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