Setting a Course for Growth
Growing nonprofits invest in acquisition
Yes, acquisition is an investment. You will (in most cases) lose money acquiring new donors. Contrary to what some (often those who have never done any fundraising) believe, simply having a Web presence is not a guarantee that new donors are going to flock to your cause
Acquiring donors — in a significant enough quantity to offset those lost through attrition — takes an ongoing strategy; testing to find the best audiences, offers, messages and creative; and a financial investment.
If you aren't willing to spend money to get a new donor — and then work like crazy to get a second gift, and then a third — you won't grow. In fact, you'll probably shrink, and eventually you may even cease to exist.
Effective nonprofits take calculated risks
This is not an argument for coming up with crazy plans and implementing them with donor money. But nonprofits that want to grow know they can't keep simply doing the same thing and expect improved results. Instead, they keep doing the same thing, but they also try new things that, after careful study, look like they have the potential to work.
It's hard to invest in an unproven strategy when every dollar spent will be one less dollar for programs. But how do you plan to find the "next big thing" if you never try anything different? Thank goodness someone took a risk and developed computers, or we'd all still be pecking away on our IBM Selectrics.
Come up with some potential ideas; a good source is to look at what the big nonprofits are doing. (Start by taking an hour this week, and look at the websites of the top 25 or 50 organizations in the 400 listing.) Examine each of your potentials from all angles, and set aside the ones "least likely to succeed." Then put together a budget and a strategy for testing the one or two ideas that look most promising.
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 email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.