Friday, September 2, 2011

Rational Fundraising and Income

Is This Task On Your To-do List? Miss It At Your Peril
One overlooked task of nonprofits is to make sure they are rational in their fundraising and income development work. Why is this overlooked? People don’t realize it is needed. Most people come to your nonprofit based on their emotions, that is, their passions.
Passions are an excellent starting point. It is how we select the causes we care about from the overstuffed cereal-aisle-full of nonprofit opportunities. What do we believe in? What made a difference to us? What will make a difference in our community? We choose based on emotions. We choose based on passions.
Passions get us in the door. While passions should not be forgotten, they do not make a good base for fundraising and income development work. Passions alone do not create income. Passions mixed with rational actions based on research, strategy, analysis and planning do create income.
How can you tell if your fundraising and income development work is rational?
Here are three keys to evaluate it:

Key One: Logical and Realistic Expectations. If you raised $100,000 last year from earned revenue, it is logical given similar efforts and a similar market, that you will raise the same amount give or take 10 percent next year. If you never raised $100,000 is unlikely you will receive a gift this size, even if you included it in your strategic plan. Your fundraising and income plan are rational when you can identify short sequential steps that get you from here to there.
Key 2: Effort. The strategic plan states that the fundraising committee will raise funds. The committee meets regularly, directs several initiatives and makes appointments to ask donors for donations and to build relationships. In this case, effort matches the sought outcomes. Contrast this with a fundraising committee who meets for several times and then quits because they have no idea how to fulfill the goals given to them.
Key 3: Proven Paths. Not only must you put forth effort, it must be the right effort. Susan, in the midst of her first capital campaign, attends a workshop to confirm that her work as campaign coordinator is on track and that she has correctly organized her next steps. From her research, Susan learns that she has a proven plan to meet her goal.
Passions often rule, even in fundraising and income development work, unless efforts are made to be rational. What keys that show you are being rational would you add to these three? How do you make sure your fundraising and income development work is rational?

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