And how to fix them!
1. No comprehensive plan.
I know lots of nonprofits who host a gala or auction in the spring, a golf tournament in the fall, luncheon in May and send a year-end appeal letter in December. This is not a fundraising plan. This is a series of fundraising strategies strung together throughout the calendar year with little or no thought to what happens before and after each strategy. How do we engage donors in our mission? The best fundraising plans include outreach, engagement, education, stewardship, retention, and ongoing board development.
2. The board has no ownership of the plan.
As long as the staff are the only ones writing, overseeing and implementing the plan, they are the only ones who are invested in its’ outcome. Boards should be an equal partner in crafting the organization’s development plan. This includes discussing, adopting and engaging in an ongoing evaluation of the plan on a regular basis. Be sure it includes a robust stewardship and donor retention program in addition to asking for new gifts. All of these strategies are ideal ways to involve and engage board members in the fundraising process.
3. The fundraising goals are unrealistic.
Too often, fundraising goals are set based on the gap between existing funding and what still needs to be raised to meet the budget. It’s a lot like using a dart board to set your fundraising goal and hoping you hit the target with one strategy or the other. This goal setting method has little or no connection to the number of existing donors, their giving capacity, the number of staff dedicated to fundraising, the size of the organization, the number of years in existence, public awareness of the organization, and visibility of and respect for staff and board leaders. These factors have a tremendous impact on the organization’s ability to raise funds. The higher the goal and shorter the time frame, the more critical it is these conditions for success be in place.
4. No one is asking.
No matter how worthy, important or urgent the cause, people almost always have to be asked to give. The ability to meet and exceed fundraising goals year after year is directly related to the ability of the organization to ask for money. One thing I know for sure: if you’re not asking, someone else is. According to Independent Sector, 90 percent of U.S. households donate to charity, 56 percent were asked to give, and 95 percent gave when asked. The power of asking is clear.
5. You’re not telling your best story.
The best story is one that describes the role a donor is playing in the lives of people the organization serves. Too often, fundraising appeals are all about the organization, it’s needs, recent budget cuts, program statistics, staff, etc. The best story a nonprofit can tell is always how donors are changing or saving lives as a result of their gift. To be successful in fundraising, always make the donor the hero of the story.
6. Lack of leader involvement.
When it comes to asking for and receiving big gifts and renewing gifts, there is simply no substitute for donors knowing and trusting the staff leader. Even at modest levels, donors want to know and trust the person responsible for spending their gift. When leaders turn the fundraising task completely over to other staff or volunteers, it greatly reduces the likelihood of success. Leaders are the face the organization and critical to its fundraising success.
Here’s why fundraising works.
I know of two organizations that each sought to raise big bucks in a fairly short amount of time. One project was to expand their capacity, programs and grow their endowment. The second organization’s project was to raise several hundred thousand or risk closing its doors. Both groups were small and only one had any paid staff. The former campaign was a long time in the planning while the other was an urgent call to action. I’m happy to say both projects exceeded their goals in the time allotted. In my view, there were three reasons for the success of both campaigns: (1) the boards of each organization were highly engaged in the effort; (2) each board had a clear, unequivocal vision for the future of the organization and communicated it to donors; and (3) both board members and staff were willing to ask for gifts.
There are no shortcuts in fundraising. With these strategies in mind, every nonprofit can be successful at fundraising. This week set a goal to ask for at least one new gift. One on one. In person. Any size. Once you ask for and get a gift, it will build your confidence to do it again. And again. Go for it!
By Alyce Lee Stansbury
Article from http.www.tallahassee.com — Image courtesy of scottalanturner.com