Observations From the Bottom of the Pool
Stick with what works
For me in the pool, that's the front crawl. I simply lack the coordination for more complicated strokes. I am not arguing against trying new things. Rather, keep doing what's working while you try new fundraising methods. As long as your "boring" core fundraising programs are bringing in money and your control letter is securing new donors, stick with them while you innovate with new opportunities.
My swimming journey has to start with my getting in the pool and taking my first stroke. So too with our fundraising — we have to repeat our message over and over. Donors have to be reminded yet again that their gifts can do such-and-such. And they have to be thanked and reassured that they made a wise choice when they gave. It can take time for your supporters to build new habits like opening your e-appeals and giving to your cause. Don't give up.
Don't take yourself too seriously
Fundraising is not a matter of inserting tab A into slot B if you want to achieve the desired outcome. If you're stretching and trying a new program or working to learn a new skill in fundraising, you're going to make a mistake from time to time. Trust me — the U.S. Olympic Committee isn't ever going to come and try to recruit me for the 2016 swim team. But even knowing that, I still get in the pool and start swimming. What do you need to try today in your fundraising program, even if at first (or maybe ever) you won't be a rock star?
Don't be jealous of someone bigger and/or better
I've noticed that a lot of my fellow swimmers are younger, leaner and much better swimmers. And unless you are No. 1 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy 400 listing, some nonprofit is bigger than you. Some organization is having a more successful event. Someone is getting more press. Don't let that discourage you into stopping or even slowing down. What you're doing matters, so don't quit.
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.