A Hiker's Guide to Fundraising
In my part of the country, we are heading into the time of year when hiking is at its finest — cooler temperatures, some rain to green things up and re-energize the waterfalls, and even wildflowers and wildlife. Some recent hikes inspired me to draw a few comparisons to fundraising — which is always an exciting journey with one more trail to conquer!
With appreciation to Jerold Panas (FundRaising Success' 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award winner), who stimulated this article with a short piece he published several months ago comparing fundraising to white-water rafting, here are some tips from a hiker to energize your work as a fundraiser this fall.
No. 1: Having a plan results in accomplishing your goal
Hikers use maps or GPS to find the right trail and get to the ultimate goal. You, too, need a road map. Scheduling out your e-mails and direct-mail letters a year in advance is a very important task. This both makes sure you begin a project in time to meet the deadline and helps you balance your communication so you aren't neglecting donors or (equally bad) barraging them.
Your plan should also cover newsletters, phone campaigns, your annual report, custom landing pages, visits, special events — in short, anything that is part of your fundraising strategy. And everything should have a projected income figure attached to it. That way, if you are falling short in the early months of the year, you can make midcourse corrections to ensure your nonprofit has the best chance possible of achieving its mission goals.
No. 2: The better prepared you are, the better the journey
Depending on where, when and for how long you are hiking, you may need a rain jacket, granola bars, a compass, moisture-wicking socks and a cap. The same is true for fundraising. You can get by with the fundraiser's equivalent of a pair of Keds and a couple of cookies. But if you are serious about fundraising, you need to be better prepared.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.