6 Ways to Create Fundraising Urgency
My mother was a get-it-done person. She didn’t like apathy or procrastination. (I wish I had followed her example more fully.)
And Mom wasn’t alone.
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
“Move fast. A sense of urgency is the one thing you can develop that will separate you from everyone else. When you get a good idea, do it now.”
— Strategist Brian Tracy
Having a sense of urgency is phenomenal. It spurs you—and others—to action.
Dr. King was speaking of the urgency of social change for the good of society and our nation. Fundraising, too, is a noble calling—life changing and life saving.
With fundraising, you must continually answer two questions for donors and volunteers:
- Why now?
Here are six ways to create urgency in fundraising:
- Have a plan. You need a plan to ensure maximum success. This should outline goals, strategies, calendar, responsibilities and more. This is a common roadmap with plenty of deadlines for all to follow.
- Break large tasks into smaller tasks, each with its own deadline. We are big fans of utilizing the strategy of breaking a campaign into distinct phases, so it is very clear what must happen, who will make it happen and by when.
- Narrow the focus. Much like segmenting, narrow the focus of what you ask of anyone—staff or volunteers. Don’t overload them; they will shut down. Never ask a board member, for example, to help with 10 visits, or even five. Start with one or two and have them successfully accomplished.
- Set the example. The pace of your work. Your follow-up. These determine the pace and follow-up of those you interact with. Have a sense of urgency in all that you do.
- Ensure people are comfortable in their roles. Staff and volunteers need education, coaching, encouragement, prompting and follow-up. Be sure that everyone on your team understands their role and next steps, and is comfortable with them.
- Look for natural deadlines and create others. You need scholarship money for students in the fall. The youth center, nursing home, hospital is at capacity, and you are already turning people away right now. People are dying from diseases and starvation right now. As you develop your case for support—your overall rationale—it should be full of natural deadlines and calls to action. Also, as a campaign progresses, find other sub-deadlines that feel natural. Campaigns that languish forever and don’t reach goal do no good. So, you have deadlines for each phase and then, within them, you create urgency with sub-deadlines, such as with challenge gifts and the deadline for participation in meaningful events, etc.
Fundraising urgency is really a way of life. It doesn’t mean panic. Panic happens often when you have not been moving with urgency, and you have to catch up.
Think of the duck, calmly moving ahead on the surface with feet moving rapidly below.
Set your goals and then make them happen. Make that important call now. Schedule that visit now. Time does fly and you are called to a noble profession. Those your worthy organization are counting on you. Make it happen—now!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.