Stomach Trouble: How Much Should You Trust Your Gut?
"The days of launching a major fundraising program based on gut instinct are over."
After reading that comment recently, I immediately felt a bit sick to my stomach. After all, my "gut" has served me well over the last few decades. No, I haven't always gotten it right, but I've had a couple big wins and a lot of midsized victories.
But, let's face it. The failures (and I've had some) are costly. That's money forever lost to programs for our nonprofits. And, our failures often make it harder to get budget to try again. (Fundraising flops live forever. Fundraising victories are too soon forgotten.)
So, if you don't have the budget for the kind of wonderful research that is available now to raise the odds that a fundraising campaign launch will succeed, and you have to resort to depending heavily on your gut, what can you do to mitigate your risk?
Step 1: Appetizer — Read and listen to what others have learned through research
We are all suffering from information overload in this day and age of the Internet, webinars, electronic publications and conferences. But there are some great "must-reads" if you are hoping to learn from the examples of other nonprofits.
This newsletter is a great place to begin; Today in Fundraising often highlights the latest reports from reliable sources. And that's a key word: reliable. Always look at the source of the information.
Check the date on any research you find, as well. Things have dramatically changed in the nonprofit community in the last five years or so. Learnings from the mid-2000s are likely to be less useful than post-recession epiphanies.
Bottom line: There is no shortcut or simple Google search. But dig deep, and see what you can uncover and learn from.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.