Fundraising Resolution No. 1: Get Fit
'Tis the season for articles listing the top five or 10 resolutions for the New Year. For some, these self-commitments can be very important; for others, they are simply a way to prolong the guilt of the holiday season into the first few weeks of January.
But in a totally guilt-free environment, for the new few weeks I’ll be suggesting ways to turn good fundraising resolutions for the New Year into income and more committed donors throughout the next 12 months.
One of the top resolutions every year is “get fit.” Visits at the health club increase (until about mid-February); diets are observed for a time; and efforts to get more sleep, exercise and downtime to de-stress are launched. While these are good personal aims, our fundraising programs need some attention to get (or stay) fit, as well:
Cut out the fat
Let’s face it — most fundraising programs have some aspects that aren’t really useful or all that appreciated by the donors. But someone with clout loves them. Words like “endearing,” “beloved” and even “anticipated” are used to describe these activities. Yet, they seem to mainly sap time and result in less net income than other activities.
Resolve in 2014 to take on these programs and trim them from the budget if you can. For example:
- Suggest a way to revamp the “fat” and turn around the less-than-stellar results.
- Propose a replacement that will bring in more net income and re-energize a portion of your donor file that has been lethargic in recent years.
- Challenge the proponents of the “fat” to find ways to make it meet minimum net income goals of $XXXXX; support them, but let them be the owners so they feel more responsibility for outcomes.
- Take a deep breath and just take it out of the budget — after preparing ammunition to defend your decision.
Watch your vital signs
Every fundraiser needs to keep a sharp eye on key life-sustaining numbers: growth of the donor file, lapsed reactivation, second-gift conversion, net income of every activity, donor upgrading, average gift — to mention just a few.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.