Advice For All You Muggle Fundraisers from Professor Albus Dumbledore
There are two polar opposites in fundraising, both of which can have fatal results: making changes with nothing to go on other than curiosity, and having no curiosity so your e-mails, mailings, newsletters and events all look the same. Exercise caution by testing, and don't stop asking "What if?"
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban")
We all have dark days in our fundraising careers. We aired a DRTV spot, and no one called to donate. The mailer messed up, and the letters went out with the wrong insert. Our year-end email campaign failed to launch on time due to a technical glitch.
The best thing to do is lick your wounds for a while (take a walk or get a latte, for example), then figure out what you are going to do to make sure it never happens again. We can't put the genie back in the lamp, as it were, but we can make sure we've done everything possible to prevent his escape again.
My recipe for dealing with the darkest of times is to figure out what went wrong, make apologies (to donors, your boss, etc.), and put in place an ironclad procedure so it won't happen again. We all make mistakes; it's how we recover from them that shows what we're made of.
People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right ("Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince")
Don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry." Donors respect it. One nonprofit accidently double-charged my bank account for an auto-draft. The women I spoke to was so apologetic and kind that I told her to keep the extra donation. I've worked for and with people who believed apologizing was always the wrong thing to do — "Let's not call more attention to it by apologizing." I don't advocate overreacting, but be willing to admit to mistakes and say those too-infrequently heard words, "I'm sorry."
Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix")
There is no magic day when all of today's young adults will wake up and decide to be donors. We have to start reaching them now — while being wise investors of our donors' money. If the bulk of your donation income comes from baby boomers and older adults, invest disproportionately there, but begin experimenting with ways to capture the attention of the younger generations.
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.