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Nine Ideas to Take Your Fundraising to the Next Level

Reprinted from Contributions Magazine

You've done your homework. You know your pitch. You believe in your mission, and understand the reasons donors give to your organization. Even so, you may feel that your fundraising has plateaued ... that you're stuck in a rut or missing out on key giving opportunities. Many times, you may simply feel a sense of malaise—that no matter how much you try, you aren't leveling up.

Today, we offer you nine great ideas for powering back on and taking your fundraising game to a whole new level:

  1. Turn Off the Computer and Pick Up the Phone
    The next time you are getting ready to send out an e-mail, I want you to stop—turn off the computer—and pick up the phone. Instead of e-mailing that donor, prospect, board member, or community leader, pick up the phone and call. It's far more personal and has lasting positive effects on the relationship.
  2. Join a New Networking Organization
    Running out of new people to talk with about your organization? Join a new networking group. It could be a local chamber of commerce, the Kiwanis club, your college alumni association, a business group. ... Whatever it is, join and start going to meetings to connect with more people.
  3. Jump on Social Networks with Renewed Vigor
    You may have started that Twitter account, LinkedIn group, or Facebook company page with the best of intentions, but as time went on, your interest may have waned, you got discouraged, or simply stopped participating. Now is the time to reengage!
  4. Listen to Your Staff and Volunteers
    When was the last time you asked for—and listened to—new fundraising ideas from your staff and volunteers? Get them into the room and ask them for ideas: What should we try? Who should we talk to? What can I do to help you?
  5. Take Your Five Smallest Donors Out to Lunch
    Everyone takes their biggest donors out to networking lunches—and you should, too—but have you thought about taking your five smallest donors out to lunch? You know, those old ladies who give $50 a year to your annual appeal or those young professionals right out of college who give $25 because they saw an ad for your organization online? Call 'em up, take 'em out to lunch, and see what motivates them to give. Maybe they could give more? Maybe they have friends who would want to give? Maybe they will just be shocked that you called. ... It was only $25 after all!
  6. Take Five Peers Out to Lunch
    Yes, another great lunch-related tip. This time, find five peers you respect, folks who work in jobs similar to yours but who aren't competitors (is there such a thing as a nonprofit competitor? You'd say no in public, but privately, you'd say yes!) and ask them if you can buy them lunch to hear about how they raise money, how they find new prospects, etc. End result = new ideas and new contacts.
  7. Launch One New Initiative
    Step outside the box and take a couple of days to launch a new fundraising initiative. Do lots of direct mail but never tried asking through e-mail? Give it a shot! Don't have a planned giving program? Get one started! Talked about doing prospecting mail, but never pulled the trigger? Now is the time to do it!
  8. Spend the Day in the Field
    Nothing is more invigorating, or leads to more insights, then spending a day away from fundraising working in the field with your program staff. If you are fundraising for a school, spend a day helping tutor kids for one of the teachers. If you are working with a homeless shelter, spend a day serving meals and cleaning up after. Get reconnected with the mission and get reenergized.
  9. Cold Call (But Don't Cold Ask)
    Seriously ... it's like a splash of cold water in your face. Shocking, confusing, a little scary, but oddly refreshing. Make a list of 5-10 people you wish you knew. Find their phone numbers (or the main switchboards at their companies) and call them. Introduce yourself. Ask them out to breakfast. Don't make an ask over the phone. Don't try to sign them up for your walk or get them to commit to a tour. Just try to get them to meet you to hear more. You may get one that says yes. You may not. ... Either way, you'll refine your pitch, think of new ways to present your organization, and feel really, really confident when you go back to calling warm contacts.

Joe Garecht
© 2011, Joe Garecht. Reprinted from Contributions Magazine, vol. 25, no. 4; reprinted with permission

Joe Garecht, founder of the Fundraising Authority has been involved in professional fundraising for over a decade. During that time, he has worked with both nonprofit organizations and political campaigns, helping them design profitable fundraising plans, implement new fundraising strategies, and supercharge their development efforts. He is also the author of The Silent Auction Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Holding a Successful Silent Auction.

Topics: Fundraising