1) Focus on the basics (Create Your Systems)
W. Edwards Deming said, “Profit in business comes from repeat
customers, customers that boast about your product and service, and
that bring friends with them.”
Develop your rinse-and-repeat systems for growing individual
giving. How are you transforming first-time donors into regular
donors, as well as mid-level donors into major donors? What systems
do you have in place to collect the stories that move your donors?
How are you capturing your donors’ stories?
Think through every step of every process with the end
This isn’t the kind of thinking that’s going to generate
excitement at your next staff or board meeting. They’ll be more
excited about the latest bright shiny object. But systems thinking
is the oftentimes critical missing piece in growing your donor
What are your organization’s processes for new donors,
in-memoriam donors, Facebook fundraiser donors, monthly donors,
One of our long-time students wrote in:
“We’re 74% of the way to our revenue budget and we’re not
quite halfway through our fiscal year and are up 322% year over
year (last year we raised almost $770K) How are we doing it? By
sticking to the basics: great case, a plan that people can see
themselves in, engaging current supporters in meaningful ways,
identifying and engaging new supporters the right way: inviting
them in as partners, not just a gift…and looking to add
new/different ways to give that make it easy for someone to act —
as well as share with others.”
2) In everything you do: Lead With Gratitude
In the nonprofit sector, gratitude is often overlooked. We’re
impossibly busy. We’re doing important work. Such vital work,
many of us are inclined to think, we shouldn’t need to make our
case for support or thank our donors. We never once stop to
consider our work from the perspective of our funders.
And yet, our ingratitude as a sector is hurting
Stewardship is the very core of your development
plan. In 2020 make a plan for your gratitude practice.
Incorporate it into your day and plan for it. Will you be
calling donors every morning before you begin your day? Perhaps
you’ll be writing hand-written thank you notes or sending out
“just because” thank you post-cards.
3) Inspire and delight
We talk a lot about “inspiring and delighting” our donors
And inspiring and delighting is not only the key to growing your
individual donor base, but it’s also key to growing a
A movement. Something we are going to be needing to mobilize
more and more.
How will you inspire and create moments for your donors in the
Pick and choose and incorporate some of these ideas into your donor
4) Develop your organization’s culture
There’s a reason why the first chapter of Simple Development Systems is devoted
to bringing everyone on your team on board. Your organization’s
culture plays a critical role in your fundraising success. You can
succeed without it, yes. But you’ll be exhausted, diminished, and
you won’t be around too long.
The important thing to remember is that organizational culture
takes work to build. Don’t expect to bring in a consultant for a
1-hour training and slack off the rest of the year. Instilling a
culture of philanthropy involves time, patience, and dedication, as
well as cooperation. Most importantly, it involves gratitude. But
the results are so worth it. A strong organizational culture leads
to happier staff, volunteers, and board members. And it definitely
leads to happier donors. If your nonprofit is mired in dysfunction,
taking the steps necessary to build a healthy workplace culture is
Mandy Fischer, Development Director at Intervale Center in
Burlington, Vermont, knows how important a strong culture is to
fundraising success. In the post, Growing Beyond Your Wildest
Dreams, Mandy shared how she created a strong fundraising culture
with her board and staff. And she referenced a “COP one-pager”
that she developed for board and staff.
You can download Mandy’s tool here.
5) Develop your “positively happy” mindset.
The flames of fear are being fanned every day. If you’re
paying attention, you’re being gaslighted. The nonprofit sector
is not immune. And we’re oftentimes picking up the slack services
government should be providing, with little by way of
You must develop a practice of resistance. In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor,
notes that your happiness affects others.
“Each one of us is like that butterfly the Butterfly Effect .
And each tiny move toward a more positive mindset can send ripples
of positivity through our organizations our families and our
Your practice must become habit. Will you set aside 30 minutes
every morning for inspirational listening (or reading)? Meditate?
Engage in vigorous physical activity? You cannot afford the
luxury of a negative thought. Your strength will come from
taking good care of yourself.
6) Master your data
Our students and clients are experiencing their greatest success
through the power of increased donor segmentation. When it comes to
your data, plan to dig deeper.
When was the last time you had a professional data audit
performed? In his presentation to our Foolproof Fundraising group,
Buck notes that a database audit takes a deep dive into all the
data in your database and looks at it objectively. You’ll get a
firm handle on your data quality and hygiene, donors’ giving
history, trends specific to your organization, demographic
information and more. I can’t imagine a better way to begin your
This is the year to make it a point to schedule regular time for
training on your CRM. Twenty-four percent of nonprofit emails end
up in spam folders. Keep your list clean. Quality trumps quantity.
Use solid, permission-based marketing to grow your email list and
never add names manually.
7) Focus on small dollar donors
Yeah, I know I’m speaking heresy. The 80/20 rule of
fundraising is our sector’s unchallenged religion. Now it’s
being reported that small donor contributions are down and
“mega donors” are seeing a growth.
But where do our major donors come from? Rarely are they result
of a stranger landing on your site and making a $1000 gift. More
often than not, your major donors initially arrived via their first
$25 gift. You must have the systems in place to grow those
And what about inclusivity and diversity? Many Democratic
candidates are focusing on building a coalition of small dollar
donors. “Candidates for public office in America spend way too
much time with wealthy donors,” Elizabeth Warren announced, going
on to relate that she will eschew “fancy receptions or big money
fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks.”
The best way to grow your small donor program? Start
your monthly giving program — and most importantly, work
Remember, you won’t grow your program by merely including the
option to give monthly online. Your organization’s monthly giving
program isn’t an afterthought. Go through the process of
developing your monthly giving case for support and create a
dedicated program. Review your donor data with an eye to loyalty
and include at least one (preferably three or more) monthly giving
appeal(s) every year to your target audience.
8) Get out of your head and IMPLEMENT
When I started out as a fundraising in 2000, there was
relatively little information available online. Training was, for
the most part, didactic and overpriced.
These days, there’s almost too much information out there. The
sheer amount of content is overwhelming. What makes it even
trickier is that some of it — ESPECIALLY from some of the
fundraising platforms — is downright wrong, and little more than
And, if you’re new to fundraising, it can send you in
the wrong direction.
Case in point… Recently I viewed a webinar from a relatively
new software company. We’re always on the lookout for guest
presenters for our weekly webinar series and, since this training
was marketed to small nonprofits, I made the time to check it
I was only 10 minutes in when I saw that the tactics being
presented were awful for the small nonprofit. Absolutely
What’s more, if you implemented the methods presented, they
could set your organization back. And this trainer presented
her opinions with such absolute authority, that it left me
dismayed for any unsuspecting newbies who may have stumbled across
the webinar. She spoke with conviction and sounded like she knew
what she was talking about. So why wouldn’t they believe her? (A
quick search led to a LinkedIn profile highlighting extensive
university fundraising experience…and none whatsoever in working
with the small nonprofit organizations this training was targeted
Jim Rohn said
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but
you cannot get more time.”
Click To Tweet
Use your time wisely.
9) Communicate consistently and well through all available (and
Are you using text-messaging simply because you CAN? What is
your end goal, and are you getting permission? Don’t abandon
direct mail, particularly your print newsletters. As Lisa Sargent
notes, “Print newsletters are your retention engines.” And,
when done well, they perform as well (and in some cases, better) as
Think multichannel. Online giving is growing but still, less
than 10% of US charitable income is now raised online. One of our
subscribers noted that the result of ditching direct mail in favor
of digital three years ago was a loss of nearly two-thirds of their
donor base! And Tina Cincotti says, “By receiving a letter and
then giving online, that supporter has become worth more to you.
Donors connected to you through multiple points give at least 20%
more than donors connected through only one channel. They also have
better conversion rates. And higher retention rates. So you’d
best be fundraising both online and offline.”
10) Factor regular acquisition tactics
such as Facebook advertising, Facebook fundraisers, small house
parties, email list-building, direct mail acquisition, and
crowdfunding, into your yearly fundraising planning. Keep it
focused to one or three and you’ll see greater success.
11) Create your organization’s planned giving program and
schedule in a legacy mailing every year
As I speak daily with nonprofit organizations, one of my first
questions is always “do you have a planned giving program?”
Nine out of ten times the answer is no. Bequest giving accounted
for 9% of all overall philanthropic giving in 2018, more than
corporate funding. Even a tagline is better than nothing.
10 Ways to Make 2019 Your Most Successful…
How will you inspire and delight in 2020?
How Will You Create Your Gratitude Practice in 2020?
Building your organization’s culture of…
Fundraising Friday | January 18, 2019
11 Ways to Make 2020 Your Most Successful Fundraising Year Ever
appeared first on Pamela