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How can you Fundraise SMARTER -- not harder?

We’re just full of paradoxes, aren’t we?

Pamela Grow Pamela Grow

Every day you’re out there, dealing with society’s most complex problems, and yet many of us are given next to no resources. We’re expected to tackle serious issues as homelessness and human trafficking, while having our hands tied by funding restrictions.

Of course you need to be savvy about how you spend money. But, as the saying goes: "It takes money to make money."

I see it all the time here in the Philadelphia region. When the economy takes a hit, the first thing organizations do is cut their development budget.

Big mistake.

It probably goes without saying that those organizations are the ones who are now raising LESS money. In fact, many have closed their doors.

What about the organizations that take the opposite tack? Rather than eliminating their development director, they hired a consultant, or added to their development staff? Yep -- they’re raising MORE money -- even in this economy.

So what can you do to fundraise SMARTER -- not harder?

  1. Stay the course. Develop a balanced, thoughtful budget approach, one that includes realistic goals for grants and corporate support, individual support, program support and events. Plan for “multiple streams of income,” yet with an eye to maximizing those activities which bring you the highest yield. Does your fundraising consist of multiple events? Chances are, unless your ticket buyers are converting into donors, the ROI is low.
  2. Retain staff.This one is key. I have worked with nonprofit organizations who have had – seriously – five development directors in three years! How can an organization have any kind of continuity with donors with that kind of record? Staff your organization with quality individuals and do your level best to keep them.
  3. Start a monthly giving program. This one is a no-brainer and I am astounded that more organizations have not picked up on it. If you’ve got donors who are giving you $1,000, $100, even $25 every year, they’re prime candidates for a monthly giving program. Check out my friend, Erica Waasdorp’s book, Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant.
  4. Refine (or define) your stories. Benevon calls it the organization’s “emotional hook.” It’s your nonprofit’s “story” – what makes donors give to you. The most compelling stories bring on the crocodile tears. Talk to your board members, talk to your clients, talk to your staff, talk to foundation funders and individual funders to find your emotional hook. Bring your mission to life.
  5. Retain your donors. Retention fundraising is the smartest fundraising. The book, Retention Fundraising: The Art & Science of Keeping Your Donors for Life, should have a prominent place on your bookshelf.
  6. Develop your organization’s culture of philanthropy. Spend money on smart fundraising training - training that includes your entire organization.

Operate from a place of abundance, rather than lack, and fundraise smart, with an eye to long-term success, and you’ll ride out any storm.

The preceding is a guest post by author, coach, copy-writer, and nonprofit marketing consultant, Pamela Grow. Pamela is the author of Five Days to Foundation Grants, the first online grant-writing guide, the author of Simple Development Systems, and the founder of Simple Development Systems | The Membership Program, monthly training created exclusively for the overwhelmed fundraiser in the one-person marketing and development shop. In 2010 Pamela was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and in 2013 she was named one of the Top 50 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by the Michael Chatman Giving Show. She’s been featured by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Foundation Center and co-hosts Little Shop a regular column of FundRaising Success Magazine.

Topics: Fundraising