Tear Down the Silos!
These occur when you define donors the way you want to handle them. “Those are online donors — we can’t send them a letter!” Or, “Those are special-events participants — we can’t send them appeals.” Have you heard anyone say, “Those are volunteers; we can’t ask them for money”?
Solution: Donors don’t see themselves as online donors or special-events donors or volunteers. Meet them where they are, in as many places and ways as you can. Engage them through as many channels and experiences as possible. The more ways donors engage with you, the more bonded they are to your cause and the more valuable they are to your organization.
These occur when you see revenue and expenses as unrelated.
I was speaking about new revenue sources to a group of chapter CEOs of a mega-nonprofit. One raised her hand and said, “Last year you told us we should put return envelopes in our newsletter. Well, we tried it.” Silence in the room.
I broke the rule about never asking a question unless you know the answer in advance. “What happened?”
“It brought in enough money to pay for a whole year of newsletters!” she enthused.
Relieved, I probed, “Then what did you do?”
Barely able to contain herself, she said, “We did it again! And even more money came in!”
Elated that I was getting through, I went for the trifecta and pushed: “And then what did you do?”
“Nothing,” she replied, “because I didn’t have any more budget for envelopes.”
I actually thought she was kidding. No such luck.
I sputtered and stammered and asked the audience if it could help explain to her that if she was netting positive revenue from each effort, she could just take the money from the proceeds to pay for the reply envelopes. The entire room stared back at me as if I had two heads and agreed with the chapter CEO. There is a revenue budget and a separate expense budget. Even if something generates an extra million bucks, staffers can’t use any of those newly found dollars to roll it out to raise more, unless they have enough in their separate, preapproved expense budget.