How Is Your Fundraising Ground Game?
There is a lot of talk in politics about the "ground game" — mobilizing supporters to action.
The term was co-opted from the football "ground game" of running the ball, versus the "air game" of passing.
The ground game in politics — turning folks out — happens by engaging voters one by one. Individually. It is the communication, the outreach, the connection and the follow-up.
It is a lot like advancement work — communications, alumni (or if you are not in a school environment replace this with your key constituency) and fundraising. The best results still take place on the ground — face to face, in the trenches.
There is the "air game" in politics — the media plan. We have communications components of fundraising plans, and our organization's overall communications and messaging should be in sync with what we as fundraisers are sharing. It supports the ground game.
This year, an organization where I serve on the board was holding a regional reception. The last reception in the area, about two years ago, had dismal attendance. The organization simply sent out emails, resulting in mediocre attendance. This year we made personal outreach. We used LinkedIn to find "connectors" and then asked them to serve on a host committee with a very limited commitment (promote the event and be there). The attendance tripled! We worked on the ground game.
The Internet and social media have all kinds of incredible tools for those of us in the fundraising profession.
But never forget the ground game. At the end of the day, our biggest success lies in the personal connection — targeting people specifically, reaching out to them individually (by email, phone, in person and, yes, even social media). Bring them closer in to your fold personally and then use the wonderful tools of technology to keep the relationships going.
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.