Getting More—With The Same Tactics
A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
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!
A common theme in the queries I receive from executives and development officers runs something like this: “I’m just a one-man shop. There’s so much to do. How do I raise more money while keeping my head above water?"
I’ve had conversations with three people in the past week alone with this concern.
The solution? In every one of these cases it’s about growing the capacity of the fundraising system, not increasing production.
A number of years ago, Stephen Covey popularized the concept of the “P/PC” balance. To grow an organization or program in a sustainable way requires strategically dividing your resources—time and money—between those activities that produce more and those activities that create a greater capacity to produce more.
The folks I’ve been speaking with are totally focused on simply generating more revenue. How? By merely doing more of what they are already doing.
One wanted to raise more but felt their current success demotivated donors to give more. More from the same in the same way?
Another person stated simply that they wanted to know what additional small events they could be holding that wouldn’t require much time but would bring in more.
Both of these people begged the capacity issue. The solution to their challenges does not lie in attempting to grind more out of the same machine.
Know what happens when you overwork any device or system? It eventually breaks down. Computers are only so fast. Automobiles are designed for only so much use. People have only so much time.
When I spoke of capacity to these folks, the immediate response was, “So, you want me to hire more people so I can raise more (the way we’re currently raising) money.”
No. Emphatically, no!
To enlarge the capacity of any system requires rethinking the assumptions, creating new processes and retooling current processes.
Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™ is Invest, Integrate & Evaluate. This is the principle that gives you the perspective of capacity building. This principle, along with Principle 6, Divide & Grow™, Principle 4, Learn & Plan™, and Principle 5, Work from the Inside Out™, creates the blueprint for capacity building.
But simply developing the understanding and creating a plan to expand isn’t enough.
Remember the need to divide resources between production and capacity?
The real limiter, in most cases, is a lack of commitment to invest in capacity—time and money. By definition you won’t be able to spend these resources on production.
What does that mean? You guessed it. You may experience a temporary reduction in immediate revenue inflow. Yes, you may need to trim some of your programs—or at least make them more effective.
It’s foregoing the smaller “no” for the bigger “yes!”
And it’s not simply nonprofits that make this mistake.
A few short years ago they were the undisputed kings of the hill in photography. They invented popular photography. They made taking pictures something for the masses. Now they’re in receivership.
What happened? Although the tale is a long and convoluted one, the big bugaboo was when they made the decision to sell the patent to the digital camera. That’s right. They invented it. And they sold it.
At the time, their focus was on production. The cash cow of the film business, to be specific. Who needs to retool for digital when money is gushing in for film? Besides, who would ever want to use a phone to take pictures and share them electronically? What a cockamamie idea!
Need I say more?
The next five years will see a transformation of both the capacity of available philanthropy as well as in the manner we engage in it.
Are you ready to invest in the future, or simply milk the present?
I extend my thanks to all those well-motivated execs and development officers who reached out. These are good people doing very good things. Let’s hope they’re ready to take the next step.
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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