The 11 Commandments of Fundraising - Part 1
I didn't start out to be a fundraiser. I had no formal fundraising education when I took over the fundraising department when the prior staff member resigned. I had to learn through trial and error, through reading and attending training and through talking to donors.
The most important lesson I learned is "I am not the target audience." You may have heard me say that before, and I can almost guarantee you'll hear me say it again. As fundraisers, we should carve those six words on the cornerstone of our minds.
But there are other "commandments" I've discovered over the years. In fact, there are 11. Following are the first four; I'll follow with the rest over the next two weeks.
Commandment No. 1: Thou shalt not "take time off"
Your donors care about what you are doing. So tell them your successes, your struggles and your stories. Year-round. Every month.
Yes, I know donors complain that you mail too much. They tell you to save money and stop contacting them — they will still keep giving. But the reality is that if your donors aren't hearing from you, they can forget about your needs.
Honor your donors' wishes by reducing the volume of your contacts if they ask, but make sure you keep in touch with them. "Time off" is a recipe for being forgotten.
Commandment No. 2: Thou shalt not ignore all the options available to you
Having a variety of active fundraising strategies will help you survive the economic ups and downs and keep income flowing.
This is when it is especially important to remember that you aren't the target audience. You might not read direct mail that comes to your mailbox, but it is responsible for major amounts of income to nonprofits. You might think planned giving is depressing, but some donors appreciate the opportunity to know the programs they supported in life will be funded after they are gone.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.