'Happily Ever After' Is Possible
Last week I received an e-mail from a person working for a small nonprofit. She expressed the organization's goals for growth and the steps it took to achieve them. But then, trouble erupted …
In this short e-mail, there were two statements that caused me to sit back and stew for a few days before I replied. First, despite a desire to grow and an understanding of a best practice, this organization wasn’t going to follow the advice because the executive director didn’t really like it. Secondly, the organization knows it needs to grow its donor base and is committed to doing that — but only if it breaks even from day one.
I read the same articles you do so I know there are exceptions to the rules. But generally, the reason a fundraising effort gets written up or featured in a webinar is because it is outstanding. If everyone was doing it, we wouldn’t bother reading about it.
These success stories are rare. We all want to be the hero or heroine in them. But reality is, well, reality. So why do we still think we can ignore the rules and live happily ever after?
Here’s another reality — those nonprofit fundraisers who work hard, follow the rules while trying like crazy to change them, use best practices while testing into better best practices, and refuse to accept growth goals that aren’t backed up by a budget and a commitment to do good fundraising are the ones who often have those breakthroughs, the ones who are featured in articles, win awards or at the very least, are proud of the work they do.
As you plan the last quarter of 2012 and look ahead to 2013’s fundraising calendar, here are some things to think about to improve your chances of “happily ever after.”
Put your best foot forward
When you sit down to write a letter or an e-appeal, you have (hopefully) identified your offer, you have a story that shows impact, and you may have a premium or a freemium. What do you lead with?
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.