Seize the Fundraising Opportunity!
I enjoy mentoring college students. I usually lean more than I share and always gain more than I give.
The experience has caused me to reflect on my own college years. There were three leaders in particular whom I now realize were reaching out to me. They were mentors, but when I now see what opportunities they presented, I realize that I failed to see them — I failed to seize the opportunity!
The same can be true in our professional years. It is in mine. Doors open, and doors close. Sometimes we have to be in tune to realize what is happening.
In our consulting firm, I can look back and see wonderful partnerships and associations that have developed ... and I can see some missed opportunities where I did not take advantage of what could have been some incredibly impactful and mutually beneficial opportunities.
A few weeks ago, I was with a fellow board member. She had been a senior executive at a Fortune 100 company and had provided entrée a few years ago to a development officer and CEO — the close connection that can only come through a relationship built over the years. She was distraught. There had been no follow-up. She used her influence to gain a meeting, set the sage — and the promised proposal never developed.
A major foundation leader was sharing with me that a development director had approached him for funding. While it was not a project the foundation could consider, he could use board-directed funds to make a gift due to the volunteer leadership involved. The result? A request was never presented.
Fundraising is a complicated arena because it requires multiple relationships, balancing priorities. But sometimes — like retaining donors — we miss the opportunities right at our feet.
Take time each week when you plan for the following week to discern any golden opportunities that you may not be seeing. Involve your team — staff and volunteers — in a regular review of prospective donor relationships and the timing of next steps.
Be proactive. Don't sit there and let opportunities pass you by. Carpe diem — seize the day!
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.