If You Don’t Change, the Results Won’t Either
The contrast was striking—two client conversations in one day this week. Each client needs to build an annual fund, a major-gifts pipeline and secure planned gifts.
One called to say that they had received a six-figure bequest from a small annual fund donor. The donor’s cumulative giving had been less than $1,000, but the organization had continually reached out to that person. Even when money was tight, the client was investing in growing their annual fund. They’re following a plan and it’s working!
The second client also had retained us to prepare a development plan. This client … well, they were different. Change can be stressful, but we’ve always found clients willing to embrace our recommendations for increased success.
But this was a different response.
No, they couldn’t invest more time for dedicated donor visits. Their communications person couldn’t increase the frequency of their donor magazine from once a year to twice a year. (It’s really just an annual report if it’s only published once a year). They did not want to lead in planned giving or corporate relations (a self-proclaimed priority that their faculty said was in disarray). No, they didn’t want to start a leadership advisory group for the parents of their students.
They certainly did not want to implement the modest direct-appeal plan that we had recommended. They said their alumni complained that they got too much communication. (That was contrary to the research we had just conducted, where alumni and friends indicated they wanted to hear more and what specifically they can do to help.)
Maybe the client didn’t understand the process that it engaged us for. Maybe they didn’t really want to change. As the saying goes, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to get the same results you’ve been getting.
If you aren’t building a pipeline of major donors through an intensive program of visits and building a pipeline of annual (and planned giving) donors through a comprehensive direct-appeal program, your organization simply will not achieve its fundraising potential.
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.