No Time Fundraising

This past month, in addition to it all, I taught three fundraising classes and spoke to four Board of Directors/Trustees about (what else?) fundraising.  Everywhere, staff and Board members alike, said, “Yes.  This makes a lot of sense, but….”  The words following the “but” fell into one of three categories:

  • I/We have no time
  • I/We have no resources
  • I/We don’t know what to do

I sympathize and empathize.  Time and resources are ever-scarcer commodities, while the fear of not doing it right is a growing one.  As is the fear of rejection.  Because no matter what anyone tells you, it IS about you and rejection always feels personal.

But fundraising is really important (not just urgent) and it is something in which both Board and staff must actively engage.

With that in mind, I thought I’d offer a few ways to fundraise that no matter how busy you are you will be able to fit into your calendar (and keep within your comfort level).

  1. Remembering that your best prospect is an existing donor, you want to keep those donors engaged and involved.  One way is to thank them, often, for their support (be that financial or gifts of their time and talents).  Once a week, thank every donor who has made a gift in the prior week—regardless of size, and regardless of who else has sent them a thank you letter.  Make it even easier by printing up some note cards with your organization’s name and your name and title (if you are a Board member, that is your title).  Then take pen in hand and write:
  • Thanks!
  • Your time/money/support is so appreciated
  • Because of you we could…….
  1. Personally contact (via phone, letter or email) a lapsed donor.  Tell him or her how his or her past support helped to make a difference.
  2. Go back through your rolodex.  Who isn’t involved with or supporting your organization?  Contact them (again, it doesn’t matter how, just that you personally reach out) and try again.  Remember, “no” is rarely “no” forever.  Often it is “just not at this time.”
  3. Sent out “Fast Facts” about your organization.  Email is a great way to do this.  Keep it short, no more than three fast facts a week—and remember, you can recycle good ones.  This will not only help to keep you and your organization in front of people, it will help them be ambassadors for you in their communities.  (If you are a fan of Slate’s Political Gabfest think “Cocktail Chatter.”)
  4. Bundle.  Just as high tech companies “bundle” together products, think about how you can package things you may be doing for one purpose and use it for another.  This is a great savings of time, energy, and money.  So,
  • Put the Fast Facts on your Facebook page
  • Invite a donor or a prospect to something at your organization that hasn’t been typically used for donor cultivation or to another event elsewhere in your community so you can have some good face time together
  • Read, with an eye to articles you can clip or books your can recommend and send along to prospects and donors  and a “Thought this would interest you,” written on your business card.

If you spent one hour a week on these or like activities, I promise your fundraising will increase and you will surprised at how little extra time you need.

Janet Levine is a consultant who works with nonprofit leaders and Boards to improve productivity and fund development.  Check out her website and her online classes at Learn more Stewardship Steps by taking the online class at