HOW TO KICKSTART YOUR FUNDRAISINGAre you ready to kickstart your fundraising? Are you tired of playing small? It’s a new year, and it’s time to make changes so you significantly raise more money than last year and maintain that high level of revenue stream. As a favor to a friend, I met with an executive director struggling to secure funds to cover basic operating expenses. Her energy is infectious. In fact, her passion fills the room! But she needs help. She has challenges that require drastic changes if she wants to raise more money for the organization. Let’s look at this situation. Here’s what I found: Scenario: Struggling to Secure Operating Expenses Mary (not her real name) is struggling to raise money for the nonprofit organization she helped launch 12 years ago. She is enormously passionate about her work, as you can imagine. Without question, her work is vitally important to the inner city, low-income children who so desperately need the program and services offered. Here’s where she meets her challenges: Mary has a hard time getting her board to financially support the nonprofit. Actually, some of the board members have the capacity to give at a significant level. But they do not contribute. She has board members well connected in the community. You guessed it – But the members don’t come through when asked to make introductions. Even more to Mary’s credit, she has had stories of impact repeatedly published in the local news, tremendously exposing the organization. With intention, she sends handwritten thank-you notes from the children to the shortlist of major donors. On top of that, Mary succeeded in securing a small, but noteworthy, number of grants from local foundations. Amazingly, the nonprofit advances its mission on a shoestring budget of less than $300,000. Indeed, Mary and the many volunteers are nothing short of amazing. But she struggles to meet budget to meet the needs of the children being served. Does this sound familiar? Here are the strategies Mary and I discussed to help her raise more money for her organization:
Immediate Next Steps to Kickstart Fundraising:1. Fire some board members! Yes, if board members are not passionate and committed to this organization, it is time to part ways. In Mary’s case, board members have been asked to give at a level that is appropriate and comfortable for them. Nonetheless, they have not given. Board members have been asked to help with introductions. Disappointingly, no board members have made introductions to the easily accessible community leaders and philanthropists by board members. Read more here: How to Keep Board Members Engaged.
2. Love the Donors You HaveForemost, make sure your current donors feel valued and appreciated. You have worked hard to secure major donors. There is nothing worse than starting over each year with finding new donors. Fundraising is about great relationships – relationships built on trust and cultivated. Fundraising does not happen overnight. Nor does identifying donors whose passion aligns with your mission. Major gift fundraising takes time and intention. So keep your donors engaged and feeling good about their investment. As a result, they will give year after year and share their enthusiasm with others. They will be raving advocates for your organization. Above all, love the donors you have.
3. Develop a List of 20 New Major Donor ProspectsAsk board members (and current donors) for the names of others who they believe would support the mission of the organization. See How Board Member Can Support Fundraising. Moreover, ask them to make introductions. Then have them join you on visits. Hence, plan the visit and have a well thought out strategy.
Action Steps Over Next Three Months to Kickstart Fundraising:
1. Hold a Half Day Board RetreatGoing around the table at the retreat, ask each board member to share:
a) why they serve on the board b) in their own words, what they believe is the mission of the organization c) a recent story of impact meaningful to themThese questions will energize the board! In fact, this exercise will help identify who is and is not committed to the mission of the organization. Allow board members to step down if they so choose. Besides, in this exercise, Mary is guiding board members through the creation of their elevator speech supporting the organization. As a result, board members are set up to be that strong voice for the organization.
2. Start to Rebuild the BoardNow that board member loyalty has been revealed, recruit board members passionate about the mission, connected in the community, action-oriented, and of a giving spirit. Mary is not looking for warm bodies, those building the community involvement section of their resume, or retirees looking for something to do to fill their time.
SummaryWithout a doubt, Mary is affecting lives. She feels alone in her efforts. In fact, it does not have to be that way. It’s time to make bold moves.
Question:Are you in the same situation as Mary? Are you going to continue down this same path or make bold moves? Let me hear from you.
Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at email@example.com.