A Hiker's Guide to Fundraising
Preparation means knowing what's happened before (response and/or open rates, average gift sizes, donor interaction, net income, etc.) and having a general idea about what lies ahead. It means anticipating what could go wrong and being as prepared as possible. It means studying the advice of others who have been on the trail and learning from their observations (i.e., reading articles, attending webinars). And it means taking the time after the journey to evaluate and capture learnings so the next effort is even better.
No. 3: You can hike anytime, but some seasons are better than others
Winter hikes can be fun (if you heed the instruction above), but there are other times when the conditions are so perfect you really want to be out there. The same is true for fundraising. Year-end is generally the best season; if your fundraising at year-end is weak or nonexistent, you'll probably never get that opportunity back.
Depending on your nonprofit, there are other good seasons for your fundraising. Plan those first so you get them right, and fill in the rest of the year with other fundraising that is appropriate to the season — meaning you may mail or e-mail fewer donors (only your most responsive), send out less costly mailings, rely more on electronic communication, have a special mini-campaign to generate excitement during a period of time that is usually less responsive, or other techniques to maximize your income during the off-seasons.
No. 4: There are hills to climb but also great flat or downhill stretches
You're going to run into challenges. Mistakes will creep into copy, drop dates will be missed, colleagues will edit the life out of your copy, a donor or two will complain and it gets blown out of proportion ... whatever it is, it's a "hill" — and you're going to be exhausted (physically and mentally) from the climb.