Looking for Inspiration in All the Wrong Places
Years ago, doughnut chain Dunkin' Donuts had a TV commercial featuring Fred the Baker (actor Michael Vale). Fred got up well before the crack of dawn, mumbling, "Time to make the doughnuts!" while looking like he'd rather be back in bed.
Do you sometimes feel like Fred the Baker, only you're mumbling, "It's time to raise the money …"? And it's even harder for you, because there is no recipe for fundraising success. You're constantly changing strategies because donors (including the government) keep changing the rules.
It's no longer enough to have an interesting newsletter and a monthly mailing explaining your needs. Now we have to send e-mails, stay current on our social-media postings, text updates, host events and visit major donors — oh, and we're still worrying about the newsletter and the monthly appeal.
Unfortunately, there isn't an "inspiration switch" to flip when we're having a hard time collecting enough interesting thoughts to string together for a fundraising activity.
What's a fundraiser to do?
Revisit the past
Inspiration may be lurking in things we wrote down or said in the past that energized us. These may be old appeal letters, or notes and photos from a particularly good connection you made with a project or project recipient.
For years, I kept a photo in my office of a young woman in Bangladesh. Despite many obstacles, she was earning enough to survive by weaving reeds into sleeping mats that were sold in the market. In the photo I took of her, her face was alive with the biggest smile you can imagine. When I was pouting and mumbling about having to "make the doughnuts" one more time, just looking at her face re-energized me.
What from your past brings you inspiration? A great note from a donor? A photo of an animal your nonprofit helped rescue? A forest you help preserve? Pictures by children whom you are helping succeed in school? Even a direct-mail letter that really energized your donor file to respond? Whatever it is, revisit it — and rekindle your inspiration.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.