Changed Minds and Kindred Spirits
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!
Mia and I spoke last week regarding her organization’s donor acquisition program for 2016. Mia is the development director for an environmental organization in the Northwest.
As she reviewed her plans, two words kept ringing in my head: “advocacy” and “fundraising.” What struck me was how she seemed to be conflating the two.
Advocating for your cause or organization is the effort directed toward persuasion. You’re seeking to persuade others to see the strength of your cause and essentially agree with you. Nothing wrong with this.
One of the key responsibilities of governing boards is to advocate for the organizations they represent to their own networks of colleagues and friends. This creates understanding, legitimacy and acceptance in the community or communities in which the organization operates.
Advocacy is not fundraising, however.
Although mutually supporting and parallel, advocating for your cause or organization is decidedly not the same as raising money for it.
Fundraising is more akin to a strategic search than an exercise in arm-twisting. To some unfortunately, there’s not much distinction between these.
Principle 4 of The Eight Principles™ is "Learn & Plan™." This is the principle of preparation. You first learn who your potential investors are by values and visions, and then you plan how to reach them.
This is quite different from a land-rush approach to fundraising. That’s where you dash across the starting line as soon the gun goes off seeking to grab everything in sight.
This method does raise money.
It raises money now—but very little for the future. It’s the operating principle of those group-ask venues. You know, the ones where you’re cajoled to attend by a friend or acquaintance, and then you're hit with a high-powered pitch and pressured ask as you eat your breakfast or lunch.
Anyone who’s been on the front line in pulling off such venues knows the panicked sprint they always are. They are one-and-done, again and again and again.
These things are right out of the playbook for selling vacation time-shares.
And yet, they continue to be very popular. Sounds like a bad dream for those hapless souls who attend.
Strategic, sustainable fundraising efforts are exercises in seeking. You’re seeking kindred spirits. When you know who you’re looking for, the search gets a lot easier—and a lot more productive.
When you’ve identified your kindred spirits, bringing new investors into the fold takes way less effort and you keep a heckuva lot more of them going forward. That’s because you’re not wasting effort trying to wring a gift out of those who aren’t likely to be persuaded.
Your investors’ values align with those of your organization.
This is how sustainable, scalable fundraising programs are built. This is how fundraising programs turn into revenue juggernauts.
Mia had already vaulted over the chief hurdle for most organizations. She knew she had to create a specific fundraising effort to acquire new donors. What she needed was just a paradigm shift.
Once I explained, Mia saw the distinction. And just in time—her plan is still a plan, which can easily be amended.
We’re at that critical time of the year—year-end. Yes, it’s about a lot of cash received. It’s more about what you’ll receive next year, however—not this.
You see, overnight successes are never overnight. They’re the result of advance planning and continual effort.
I extend my sincere thanks to Mia for reaching out. I’ve asked her to share a copy of the “new and improved” plan when she’s done.
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.
A note to my readers: In January we’ll be making available a ground-breaking educational platform for fundraising. Stay tuned.
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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