Email and online fundraising has made it easier to get any kind of money, anywhere. It’s possible now to ask people to give you money morning, noon and night, while they bathe, eat and play games on hand-held devices or in an email that they sit in front of every day, in mail that they open (or not), in telethons, and races for cures, and walks and any number of gift-wrapping-frozen-pizza-holiday-bizarre way.
The possibilities are limitless, so why is everyone feeling as if all these ways aren’t amounting to much at all? Because they aren’t. It’s not the bad economy, and it’s not the enormous competition for donor funds. It’s ineffective fundraising. It’s poor planning, unmanaged expectations and lack of organization.
The myriad of ways in which you can reach your potential donors means nothing in the face of poorly managed, poorly developed fundraising. If anything, the ability to reach out with impunity makes things that much harder. In our rush to ask, we don’t take the time to plan, measure, adjust and follow-up in ways that support our work.
Truly effective fundraising is as much about the campaigns and the follow-up as it is about the structure and foundation of the organization itself.
Nonprofits struggle with fundraising primarily because they struggle with being organizations on the whole— they are inexperienced or just overwhelmed, under resourced and struggling to survive. Just like many small businesses that struggle with their identity, marketing and growth and living hand-to-mouth, nonprofits commonly guess, pray and rely on hope as a strategy. Surviving on fumes, passion and commitment doesn’t make an effective organization. While more money would help, it won’t solve the underlying cycle of ineffectiveness. Break that cycle with these five steps:
- Build the case
- Map your community
- Craft the strategy
- Plan the tactical work
- Execute the follow up
If you follow each of these steps and use the tools created to support them, you will be well on your way to a stronger organization showing tangible and clearer results.