Fundraising: Avoiding the Quagmire
Know your audience — or admit your strategy is for reaching a new audience. If your goal is to reach more baby boomers, you'll focus on different fundraising activities and messages than if you what to reach people in their 20s or in their 70s. Whether you send a letter, host an event, do a Twitter and Facebook campaign, or go in another direction entirely will impact who participates. Choosing the wrong fundraising activity for the audience can make success impossible.
Take a broader view when measuring a major donor officer's impact. One struggle that fundraisers often face is, "Who gets the credit?" Few donors — even those who are being personally cultivated by a fundraiser on your team — live in a hermetically sealed world. They may read your mail, attend events, browse your website, get receipts — in short, interact with you in multiple ways. Our multichannel world requires a different way of measuring impact; otherwise, you risk donors being caught in the middle of your internal politics. Change how you measure results — for example, since your major-gifts officer began focusing on this donor, has his/her total giving to the organization increased? You need to adapt this to your organization and find a way to evaluate every activity fairly, but silo-ing fundraising activities (and donor response) is courting trouble.
Listen to opinions of experienced fundraisers, but weigh them with your own reality. Let's face it — when this old dog writes a post, I write from my experience, prejudices and opinions. It's not perfect advice for everyone. I wish there was a simple formula for fundraising: 5 of these + 2 of those = success. In the absence of that, every fundraiser must constantly read, ask "what is?" questions, test and learn, and sift through the vast amount of information available and adapt it to his or her own situation.
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 email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.