3 Ideas to Improve (Almost) Any Fundraising Activity
The event I attended wasn't something for which I basically could have written the program before I even got there. It was surprising and out of the ordinary — but it didn't neglect a solid ask (and rationale for giving), pledge cards and people who worked the crowd. How predictable are your events, letters and emails? Have they become "OK to miss" choices for donors simply because they feel too predictable? Think about ways to make your fundraising more unexpected, and maybe some donors will start paying attention again.
Finally, the staff on the nonprofit did a great job relying on outside support. In fact, when I met the development team, I was surprised to see no one panicking about the napkins or looking like he or she was desperately in need of a good night's sleep. Instead, everyone was relaxed, greeting guests (and taking time to visit with them), and simply enjoying the opportunity to give their supporters a memorable evening while they raised support.
Too often, we (and this is very inward-focused, too) can't let go. "Anything you do, I can make better" is our mantra. So even though we pay someone else (or use qualified volunteers) to write the copy, do the design or manage the event, we have to run behind and "fix" things. Ask yourself — is this because you can't let go, or is it because you have relied on the wrong people to get the job done? If it's the latter, you owe it to your organization (and yourself) to invite someone else to take over. Outside help can be the greatest thing in the world when it's the right person or persons. When it's not, don't tolerate — change.
This old dog has been to many events over the years, but few left me feeling as good as this one — about the investment of my time, and most importantly, about the organization and why it deserves support. Ask yourself if your fundraising letter, newsletter, e-appeal or event will leave your donors feeling that same way. How will they answer these questions: Was this worth reading/attending? Do I feel better about the cause than I did before reading/attending this? How do they want me to respond after reading/attending this, and is that how I want to respond?
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.