A Summer Checkup for Your Fundraising
When I was a kid, I went to summer camp for a week or two — and that inevitably meant a trip to the doctor to get the camp physical. The same was true when my daughter played summer sports. Getting a physical in May was pretty much the norm so we could enjoy our summer to the fullest.
Right now is a great time to get out your fundraising stethoscope and give your program its summer checkup, too. Like people, cars and many other things, a fundraising program works best with some routine care.
The good news is there are no shots or pills required. Just take a look at these three things that help your fundraising program stay strong — or regain strength, if needed — and make sure they have the necessary internal fortitude to carry on through the busy fourth quarter.
Check what supports you
Bottom line, is your data file serving you, or are you taking orders from it? “I’m sorry; I refuse to give you that information” should not be the response from your data every time you ask for something. (Granted, the message will be much more sophisticated and talk about a code that failed or a parameter that was invalid, but the bottom line is the same.)
I don’t deny it — donor data systems that work are expensive. You may not have the money. But are there any work-arounds to what’s lacking in your system? Go online and search for solutions others may have posted. If you know someone using the same system, pick up the phone and call. People in the nonprofit space are amazingly generous about helping one another.
If nothing else, make sure your instructions for entering data are clear. There is no magic button you can push that will turn sloppy entry into perfection. Inconsistencies are among the worst offenders; it’s nothing short of frustrating when you can’t use your salutation field in a letter because somewhere is a record that has the address entered in that field. You may not be able to fix it all, but at least fix (or find a work-around to) the few things that are the worst offenders when it comes to hindering your efforts to raise money.
Check what works hard all the time
Is your homepage welcoming to visitors? Is the news section of your website up-to-date? Are your emails easily read on a mobile device? Is it easy to make a donation online? Is the recording on your company’s phone and your personal phone current? (Let’s face it — a message that says you are out from June 1, 2013, through June 10, 2013, doesn’t instill confidence on June 11, 2013, let alone in 2014.)
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.