Staying Focused in … Oh Look, a Unicorn!
Spearheading a one-person development department can feel like you’re spinning 10 glass plates in the air. You’re the grant proposal writer, database administrator, director of individual gifts, webmaster, event planner, social-media director and more! And every day it seems as if “they” — the trendsetters — are dangling more bright, shiny objects in front of your face.
Not to mention your board and executive director: “Have you looked into Facebook?” they ask. “I heard of an organization that raised $50,000 on Facebook!”
“Find out about applying to The Gates Foundation,” your board president instructs you. “My sister-in-law’s nephew knows the sister of one of the directors of their United States program!”
“Do you think that we should be on that Twitter thing?”
Avoid distractions — stay the course
How can you bypass the noise to build the framework for a successful donor-centric development plan for your organization? A plan that will raise the money your organization needs now — and for the long haul?
Clearly you won’t be focused when you’re constantly chasing the next great idea. When you’re forever implementing the next thing that someone mentioned in a Twitter chat, or following up on that suggestion from a board member, or chasing after new donors while current donors are neglected … you’ll continue to feel like a hamster on a wheel.
What’s the solution? Your best bet for implementing a balanced fundraising approach is to begin with a detailed fundraising plan and calendar.
- How much do you anticipate raising via grants? How many new foundations will you approach?
- How can you grow your individual giving? By mailing more frequently? Implementing an additional online campaign?
- How are you stewarding the donors that you have? Do you have a plan in place for letting your donors know how much you appreciate their support?
- How much time does foundation prospect research take you? Write it down! (Hint: When you’re prospecting on a regular basis, rather than once or twice a year, you’ll find that the time it takes to locate new sources of foundation funding will dramatically decrease.)
Instead of allowing your board to lead you into the morass of “busy” tasks, put the board to work — writing thank-you letters, making thank-you calls and, yes, asking.
Looking for an added edge? Do what Leslie White Clay of Hope Pregnancy Cottage in Dallas did, and declare this your organization’s Year of the Individual Donor. By providing exemplary donor care, including personalized thank-you letters, phone calls and visits, Hope Cottage was able to double its individual giving — in the span of a year.
Practicing focused donor love will not only increase your organization’s funding over time, it will give you a renewed appreciation for why you’re in this business in the first place. FS
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.