Achieving a Fundraising Gold Medal
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are over. As always, the Olympics were full of drama and excitement as athletes sought the “thrill of victory” and to avoid “the agony of defeat.”
The gold medal is the ultimate Olympic victory and is also sought and coveted in many other competitions. What does it mean to have a gold medal fundraising program?
Here are some suggestions:
- A culture of philanthropy that embraces proven best practices and the engagement of the board and senior staff in fundraising.
- A willingness to invest in fundraising capacity building and expertise, understand that it takes three to five years to build a comprehensive program and establish a true culture of philanthropy.
- The commitment to reach each goal and to undertake every task with great urgency and professionalism.
- The highest ethical standards and transparency.
- A sincere focus on the donor and their rights and interests—even to the extent of rejecting a gift that would violate either.
- Continually deepen donor relationships, including recognition, when appropriate and agreeable to the donor
- An understanding of the importance of every gift and every donor.
- Experienced, senior staff in the development function who are acknowledged for their expertise and allowed to lead the program.
- Formal fundraising plans and regular benchmarking toward goals.
- Systems and procedures in place to ensure accurate accounting and prompt acknowledgement of all gifts and commitments.
- A team approach understanding the benefits of synergy and collaboration.
- An understanding that relationships belong to the organization, not to individual staff or volunteers.
- Clear, concise, consistent and compelling fundraising communications.
- A commitment to the ongoing education of staff and volunteers in fundraising.
- A board that leads in both giving and strategic relationship building.
What do you feel are the essential ingredients in a gold medal fundraising program?
Establish plans to achieve a fundraising gold medal. Set a course for excellence. Benchmark, but don’t be overwhelmed by comparisons—every organization is different and is different this year than the next or the last. And believe me, every organization appears vastly different from the outside!
Don’t be distracted by pride or ego. You are a steward of your organization for a period of time. Set appropriate and even ambitious goals—your worthy mission deserves this. Commit to continuous improvement and look for the opportunity for dramatic and more sudden improvement.
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.