What's a Little Guy to Do?
I regularly walk in a neighborhood where the garden sheds are larger than my house. I have a cat; they have horses. Even an occasional llama. The lawns are immaculate, and the views are expansive.
The walk is good exercise and a chance to think about what I'm working on, what I'm reading or just what I'm wondering about. And it also gives me new ideas — flowers for our garden, trees I don't recognize and want to look up, and occasional decorating ideas. Even though I'm just a little guy who lives down the foothills from these homes, I benefit from peeking behind the curtains (that's figuratively, not literally) to get new ideas.
If you work at or raise funds for a small to midsized nonprofit, you may sometimes get frustrated when you read the ads or case studies talking about successful programs that raised millions, brought in tens of thousands of new donors or got press coverage on CNN. As you're thinking about 2014 (yes, it's only 40 days away), you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, wondering what you can do to get just a little bit bigger slice of the philanthropic pie. So, here are a few ideas for making the next 40 days matter in terms of maximizing your nonprofit's success in the new year.
Know your numbers
Everywhere I turn, it seems, I'm reading another article about declining retention rates. It's a problem, and ignoring it won't make it go away. Donor attrition is like weight gain; you don't gain 15 pounds overnight, and you don't lose 15 percent of your donor file overnight, either. So right now, vow to figure out your attrition rate the day the last donation for 2013 is posted in your computer system. You may have an automatic report in your software, or you may have to figure it out manually.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.