3 Tweaks to Get Your Fundraising Back on Track
I’m not reaching my fundraising goals. I have the list and feel like I’m doing all the work. But I’m not finding the connection with donors. They seem to think that my solicitation is a “take it or leave it” proposition rather an attempt to find the right gift level. Can you help?
— Panicked in Pasadena
I feel your pain. It can be awful doing the work, even having actual meetings with major donors, and still not have the fundraising results you expect. Here are three tweaks I find help my coaching clients get back on track to reaching their fundraising goals.
Tweak No. 1: Be specific
Ambiguity will kill your fundraising. The most common reason I’ve found for nonprofits not hitting their fundraising goals is a lack of specificity. You need specificity in both your goal — what you want to accomplish and how much it will cost — and in your ask amounts.
You sound willing to make the ask. But many people in your position see fundraising as merely a “necessary evil.” Embarrassed by this task, they sloppily ask donors to “support” the nonprofit. This unspecific ask shows an incredible lack of respect for the donor.
Knowing the specific change you want to make makes asking for money much easier too. No longer are you asking for a gift for your nonprofit. You are now asking a donor to invest in the change. “Will you invest $150,000 to preserve art so people can view it regardless of their net worth?” can be far more effective than, “Will you make a $150,000 gift to the museum?” You’re respecting the donor enough to help him see how his gift will invest in his values.
Knowing specifically what you want to accomplish also gives you options. If you know you want to make a change in the community, you’ll be more open to seeing the different ways that change could be accomplished. Perhaps the donor isn’t ready to give money at this point in the relationship. Now you can ask her for help in collaborating with another organization. Or for a gift-in-kind that will offset your costs in accomplishing the goal.