This year is almost over and, if you're like most fundraising professionals, you're starting to think about your year-end report to your executive director and board of directors.
Will you be able to tell them that your fundraising this year was as successful as it could have been? Or, as you review your fundraising results, are you disappointed in what you see?
If your answer is the second one, I'm pretty sure I know the cause—you didn't ask as often as you should have. Not because you lacked the will or desire, but because you allowed yourself to become overwhelmed with (admittedly) urgent—but ultimately less important—day-to-day tasks.
Believe it or not, it doesn't have to be like this. Over the last few years I've developed a simple, easy-to-follow method that will get you on track to raise much more money. The best part of this system is that anyone, even someone with your crazy-busy schedule, can use it!
The plan is called "50 Asks in 50 Weeks." That's it—an ask almost every week.
Asking More Often = Raising More Money
I was recently at a seminar where the speaker compared fundraising to baseball. He reminded us that, in baseball, players who make a hit just once every three times at bat end up in the Hall of Fame. In other words, Hall of Famers actually fail two-thirds of the time they're at bat! Players don't put off going to bat until they're sure they'll get a hit, however—if they did that, no one would ever take a swing!
Fundraisers, on the other hand, are frequently afraid to ask unless they're sure the answer will be "Yes," and the result is pretty much the same as it would be for a baseball player who refused to bat unless he felt sure of getting a hit. To put it another way—the one absolute certainty you face as a fundraiser is that if you don't ask, you won't get the gift.
With my 50 Asks in 50 Weeks planning tool, though, you'll probably find yourself "at bat" more often than ever before—and the more you ask, the more money your organization will receive. Of course, it's not just about quantity; it's about quality, too.
Here are the three simple steps you need to take to raise more money:
STEP 1: Get Ready
First, assess your current fundraising efforts—and the results of those efforts—and create a baseline. This step is about knowing where you are and where you have been, which will allow you to set effective goals for the coming year.
STEP 2: Get Set
Now it's time to create your plan. I've included a sample below. Print it out or re-create it on a whiteboard in your office, and then fill in the names of individuals, corporations, foundations, bulk mail campaigns, and other solicitations you already know you'll be doing next year.
|ASK 1||ASK 2||ASK 3||ASK 4|
An important part of step 2 is identifying prospective donors who are ready or almost ready to be asked. Use your database to identify your best prospective donors by searching for those who have given large gifts or have given repeatedly over the recent past.
STEP 3: Go!
Step 3 is about implementation. How will you carry out your plan, and how will you stay on track in the face of all of the inevitable requests to do other urgent (but less important) tasks?
As part of my Major Gifts Challenge, I've written a post with two important tips to help you stay on task with your asking.
One of them involves eating a frog. (No, not literally!) Take a quick look at that post for details if you'd like, but it basically boils down to two important points: holding a monthly meeting to keep everyone involved on task and accountable, and combating procrastination.
The monthly meeting is a great way to keep your board and executive director apprised that you're up to something fantastic—and to enlist their help and support in respecting the time you've set aside to prepare for and make your 50 Ask goals. As for the frog, you'll have to check out the post to get the whole story.
This Is Your Year to Raise More Money!
No matter what your current year totals look like, don't worry—very soon you'll be a fundraising star and enable your organization to do more than ever!
Check out Amy Eisenstein's GuideStar webinar on this topic.
Amy Eisenstein, MPA, CFRE, Tri Point Fundraising
© 2013, Tri Point Fundraising
Amy Eisenstein, MPA, CFRE is a leading fundraising consultant, speaker, coach, and author of 50 Asks in 50 Weeks and Raising More with Less. Her talent for simplifying the fundraising process yields big results for her clients and readers.