A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem and I’ll arrange a quick consultation offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course!
I had a delightful conversation with Cyndy recently. Cyndy is the executive director of an environmental nonprofit in the Southeast. She reached out to me ostensibly to get direction on how to execute a reverse auction at an upcoming event.
I say “event” because, as Cyndy described her situation, it sounded much more of what I’ll call the “un-event.”
When I hear a charity is doing another fundraising event, my mental images are of auctions, table sponsorships, and overpriced and over-cooked meals, all in an atmosphere just this side of a circus. Throw in a rock band and uncomfortable chairs and the description is complete.
This is decidedly not what Cyndy is doing.
The organization that Cyndy leads has a history of funding their entire program from gate receipts and memberships. They’ve been prudent and responsible. Now, they’re embarking on a major expansion with the construction of a nature center. The land has been gifted, so they are in the early stages of planning a capital campaign to fund the construction of the facility.
The un-event plays into the overall strategy by inviting members and prospective members to a celebration of success. No live auctions, ticket fees or table sponsorships. Cyndy reached out to me, as she wants to include a modest reverse auction to increase the membership. All of this is in anticipation of the first step in the campaign planning process—a feasibility study.
Cyndy’s auction will be simple. Beginning at the highest level of membership they’ll “auction” new memberships. She only expects to raise about $5,000. No matter. Cyndy knows the real “payoff” will be in an expanded membership ready to be cultivated for participation in the upcoming campaign.
I really love it when leadership thinks ahead. It makes my job as a coach so much easier—and fulfilling.
Principle 6 of The Eight Principles™ is Divide & Grow™. By treating different donors differently, you allow them to engage your organization at a place and level that is in keeping with their life circumstance—their sitz em leben, or situation in life, as the Germans say.
The skunk at the garden party—the real challenge ahead—is the governing board. Not that board members aren’t well-motivated, good people. They are. The challenge for the board is coming to grips with the need to do fundraising—perhaps for the very first time for some of them.
Cyndy and I focused on how to accomplish the “retraining”. Together, we came up with a strategy that allows the campaign cabinet to be the incubator for future leadership and the momentum of the campaign to allow current board members to self-select out.
Sounds like a plan.
Principle 3 of The Eight Principles™ is Leadership Leads™. Effective leadership may or may not be positional. It can be those who step up and are counted. This is how new leadership is identified, groomed and celebrated.
When I recommended a campaign consultant who serves her region she already knew of him! I merely reinforced what she’d already heard.
I extend my thanks to Cyndy for reaching out and sharing her situation. Now she’s ready for the successful un-event and the main act, which follows—the campaign.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me, and I’ll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I’ll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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