Being Certain About Uncertainty
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old, yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem and I’ll arrange a quick consultation offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course!
I had a delightful conversation with Diane a couple of weeks back regarding her fundraising projections for the coming year. Diane is the executive director of a medium-sized nonprofit in the Southwest.
This year was a banner year for Diane’s organization. It met—or exceeded—every fundraising goal. Boffo for her!
In her projections for next year, she has inked in moderate bumps in her fundraising goals. Her ROI for these efforts will increase markedly given the strategic investment her organization has made in fundraising over the past three years.
It’s gratifying to see an organization that is acting strategically and reaping the benefits.
With this combination, she’ll have sizable increases in usable funds for 2016.
Seems like that’s insufficient for her finance committee, however. Buoyed by the healthy results for 2015, the members of her committee, all qualified financial professionals, want absolute certainty on the 2016 numbers.
You read it right, absolute certainty.
I was at an initial loss for words. Those who know me know that I’m not easily taken by surprise.
Complete certainty is impossible. Period.
The one possible exception is a handful—and I mean handful—of mature planned-giving programs with receipts that are predictable with actuarial certainty. And that’s only in one narrow fundraising arena.
Seems that the leadership of Diane’s organization wants to expand a couple of programs and has a capital project that it wants to start NOW, rather than waiting to see how the numbers fall out.
Principle 1 of The Eight Principles™ is “Donors are the Drivers®.” Donors are in the driving seat when it comes to fundraising. Development professionals, with all their sophistication, still don’t call the shots.
What did I tell her?
“Keep your senses about you,” I remarked. If your committee presses, ask them to step up and be the first to help make these goals a reality.
Principle 3 of The Eight Principles™ is “Leadership Leads™.” It’s been my experience that board and advisory committee demands of staff are often inversely proportional to the expectations they make for themselves.
Beyond a certain point, if the subtle redirection doesn’t work, it may be time for a new job, I told her.
If this is what occurs, it will be a real tragedy.
For the rest of us, my hope is there will be board and volunteer committee members who read this and will come to see their staff counterparts as their partners. They’ll appreciate the hard work these individuals do and when they present the next challenge in a meeting they’ll bring part of the solution with them.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to Diane for her candor. I’ve asked her to update me in a few months.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me and I’ll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I’ll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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