I Have Some Good News … and Some Bad News About Fundraising
"I have some good news … and some bad news." We've all heard that saying — and probably said it from time to time.
And it's true — in life and in fundraising.
Since I am not qualified to philosophize on life itself, I'm going to stick to fundraising. And sadly, the bad news there is: Fundraising is tough. It doesn't always work. The money we spend doesn't always come back to us tenfold or even twofold.
But the good news is: Fundraising works! In fact, Giving USA estimates that last year, nonprofits in the United States raised $335.17 billion. Regardless of what your share of this really big pie was, the fact remains: Fundraising raises funds.
Well, sometimes. There's no magic bullet. If there was, I would share it with you. (At least I like to think I would.) Fundraising is hard, hard work. Sometimes it's characterized by guessing and hoping, by disasters and near misses. Other times there are glorious successes. Massive pats on the back. Even awards and accolades.
But the pathway to fundraising success is strewn with bombs. Letters that didn't move donors to give. Emails that led to massive unsubscribes. Events that left you in tears. Proposals that were rejected. And the list goes on.
No, there is no magic bullet. But I believe there are some basics that can help get you closer to success. Sure, you'll still have some bombs, but overall, you will be more successful.
First, have a plan. While a full-scale development plan is an excellent idea, the reality is that many nonprofits — especially smaller ones — can't afford the luxury of time and money to take on a planning project of that scope. But that's no excuse for not having a plan that is aligned with the scale of your fundraising goal.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.