The board of Just Our Luck Youth Services is not happy with the organization’s fundraising results. The board chair pounds her fist on the table, declaring, “I am sick and tired of hearing excuses every year. We never meet our fundraising goals. Something has to be done.” Trying to distract from where she believes the conversation may be headed the executive director interrupts with, “we would hit our goals if the board would give and fundraise. You can’t expect staff to do everything.” Quickly the board chair retorts, “Well then, why do we have staff?” Oh, this is going to be a round of finger pointing. Where will it end, and what will most benefit the young people served by Just Our Luck.
If you’ve been part of a discussion such as the above, you know that changing an organization’s fundraising program can be contentious, and too often isn’t addressed until reality cannot be avoided. When you come to this crossroads, we suggest taking positive action: put your fundraising program under new management. This shifts the focus from who is responsible for what has happened in the past, to what can be done differently going forward. Get out of the same-old-same-old nonprofit fundraising mode and treat your fundraising shop as if it is a new, proud, startup ready to take on the world. Organize your fundraising as you would organize the launch of a new business. Make promises to your donors and funders – and get busy fulfilling them.
Here are things your fundraising team should be able to deliver. The most important is accessibility. You simply cannot be too busy to communicate with current or prospective donors and funders. Be accessible and intelligent: know what you are raising money for and why. Add the following to the mix: accurate data management, an engaged and committed board, higher skilled administrators and staff, and increased transparency and accountability. Prioritize creating a donor friendly environment that offers donors and funders more ways to invest and become engaged. Create up-to-the-moment special events that are new and fun – no more of the same old chicken dinner and silent auction. Double up on that creativity and pour it into your stewardship program. Banish the days of a thank you letter and gift receipt followed by another solicitation. Engage the young talent that surrounds your organization and ask for their opinions on how to make donors and funders feel valued and appreciated. Draw in creatives and those who are focused on the bottom line. Then share the responsibility for implementing what you agree on. Importantly, you may need to seek out an individual with a higher level of fundraising and fund development experience to run your program. Someone who can both look at the big picture and advance the details. When things aren’t going as planned, you need to take corrective action. It just might be that you need to operate under new management.
Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.