There are no magic pills in fundraising

processHas something ever drifted into your email inbox with a subject line that you just could resist opening immediately? Well, it happened to me yesterday when an email arrived announcing that Future Fundraising Now blog just completed a post titled “How to plug along like a fundraising machine,” and like the cat, curiosity got the best of me and I clicked it open right then and there.

What I read was something so simple and yet so true. It stuck with me all evening and carried over to my first cup of coffee this morning. The secret to becoming a “fundraising machine” really is simple.

I encourage you to click over and read what Jeff Brooks has to say, but the gist of it is this simple:

  • Follow the process for whatever fundraising project you’re working on.
  • Don’t cut corners.
  • Practice perseverance.

Simple yet so right on target!

Some of you might be asking yourself, “What ‘process’ is he talking about?” So, the next two sections more closely examine two fundraising processes that oftentimes get their corners cut.

In-person solicitation of a donor

process2There is a process that successful fundraising volunteers and professionals follow when sitting down face-to-face with a donor to ask for a charitable contribution. It is rooted in best practices and centuries worth of learning the hard way.

It is what I was taught, and I simply call it the 12-step process for making a face-to-face ask.

  1. Make your own gift
  2. Think about the clients (don’t psych yourself out by thinking about the money)
  3. Choose good prospects (aka no cold calls)
  4. Call the prospect and set-up the meeting (and don’t accidentally ask for the gift on the phone)
  5. Prepare for the meeting
  6. Talk about the case for support (e.g. tell impactful stories that demonstrates ROI)
  7. Share your commitment (e.g. tell the donor how and why you are involved)
  8. Ask for the gift
  9. Be quiet!
  10. Answer questions
  11. Set another call/meeting to follow-up (esp. if you didn’t get the pledge right then and there)
  12. Express thanks for time and consideration

Ta-da . . . process. This is one example of what Jeff was talking about in his blog post. His point was that people who are fundraising machines embrace a process like this and execute. People who are less successful, cut corners and are simply not as successful.

Keeping fundraising volunteers engaged and focused

process3There is a process that successful fundraising professionals follow when trying to keep board members and fundraising volunteers focused and engaged in reaching a campaign goal. As with the process highlighted in the last section, it is rooted in best practices and lots of trial-and-error.

Think of the following concepts as less of a sequential process and more like nine different cogs in the same machine working together to achieve the goal of “volunteer engagement“.

  • Planning
  • Setting expectations
  • Training
  • Organization
  • Well run and important meetings
  • Accountability
  • Urgency
  • Recognition
  • Mission-focus

Ta-da . . . process. This is another example of what Jeff was talking about in his blog. Successful fundraising professionals do these things like a chef following a recipe. The end result is an engaged group of board and fundraising volunteers who achieve their campaign goals. Those people who ignore some of these concepts usually end up falling short of their campaign goal.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look more closely at a few examples:

  • What happens when meetings are run without a lot of direction (e.g. without an agenda) and things seem to drift and go on forever? In my experience, people stop coming to meetings. In other words, they disengage.
  • What happens when there is very little urgency to raise money (e.g. deadlines are fuzzy and there are no scheduled report meetings)? In my experience, people drag their feet and prioritize the campaign to the bottom of their task list. In other words, they disengage.
  • What happens when there is very little mission-focus and the campaign focuses on the theme of ‘we need some money to keep our doors open’? In my experience, people resort to quid pro quo solicitation techniques and start procrastinating. In other words, they disengage.

The bottom line

Do you have professional fundraisers, board members and fundraising volunteers who you see cutting corners or not adhering to “process”? If so, the question is simply this: “What are you going to do with them?” Because they will not produce for you in the way that you need.

Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below. Are you thinking re-training is the best strategy? What about termination or reassignment? Or is the problem YOU? If so, then what? What do you need to do differently to create the fundraising machine your agency so desperately needs?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.