Being in Fifth Grade—Strategic Fundraising
When you were in fifth grade, everything was planned. Safe. Secure. You’ve been in school a few years now. You get the drill. You’ve mastered the playground. The challenges of adolescence aren’t even on the horizon.
The biggest challenge in your life was figuring out what was going to be on the test.
Many nonprofit execs, board members and even fundraisers think they’re still there. Strategic fundraising—what’s that? Who needs it?
Fundraising is the same this year as last year. Hardly sounds like strategic fundraising, does it? “Let’s keep doing what we’re doing. Sure, it’s a ton of work. But it’s working—sort of.” The motto is “nothing ventured, nothing lost.”
Like being in fifth grade, this kind of fundraising brings the satisfying feeling that we’re safe. We’ll make it. No surprises. When something actually does crash in on you—and it will—you feel a little like dying. Don’t change the linens for the gala.
Strategic fundraising isn’t fifth grade. It requires you to think, to do things differently, to take risks. Sure, you’ll fail from time to time. But your successes will far outweigh your failures. I promise.
“How can you be sure?” you say. Because I’ve been there. Yes, I have. I’ve seen what happens when an organization with a hide-bound fundraising program breaks free and grows up. How about a 600 percent revenue increase in a year.
Strategic fundraising means engaging in strategy. Thinking. Planning. Then doing. Unlike the fifth grade where the greatest mystery was wondering what your mother packed in your lunch.
Principle 8 of The Eight Principlesä is Invest, Integrate & Evaluateä. For your fundraising program to remain healthy and grow, you must invest your time and financial resources into it. To avoid being at cross-purposes, you must integrate all of your individual efforts toward common goals. To avoid stagnation, you must continually evaluate your efforts being willing to refine what’s working and what’s not.
Strategic fundraising isn’t as sure and comfortable as fifth grade. But it’s a heckava lot more fun—and the rewards so much greater.
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.
Reach Larry on social media at: