Just Say No

Every so often, I am reminded why I call this blog “Too Busy To Fundraise.”  It’s what so many development and executive directors say or feel.  And it never ceases to surprise me.  If your job—or much of your job—is about raising money, how could you not make the time for it and how, with what, could you be too busy? Well, I know, of course.  It’s that other things overwhelm you.  But let’s get real:  It’s not that those things overwhelm, it is that you allow them to take center stage.

So as you consider your New Year’s resolutions, consider this one: Just say NO!

  • No, I cannot serve on that committee-it doesn’t lead to raising money
  • No, I can’t renegotiate the lease—it doesn’t lead to raising money
  • No, we are not going to have another special event—really, it doesn’t lead to raising money
  • No, I can’t write a grant for an unnecessary program to a foundation that doesn’t support organizations/projects like ours-- it doesn’t lead to raising money
  • No, I can’t _____________________ fill in the blank with whatever it is that someone asks you to do (or whatever avoidance idea has hit you) that doesn’t lead to raising money.

As you think about next year, think about the things that do lead to raising money and put those front and center.  And write a plan as to how you will accomplish those things.

My clients get sick of me telling them—but, honestly, it is what you have to do.

It needn’t be fancy.  Draw a table, or a bunch of boxes.  Label with the months.  Into each box (or column) put in the things you must do.

Next, figure out the steps to do those things—and put those in.

So, if you have to write a grant that is due in say May, put that in and then calendar each step you need to take to get that grant done.

Ditto for a special event, mail appeal, your monthly newsletter.

My attention is often on major individual gifts.  TO raise these, you must identify a certain number of prospects (about 4 for each gift you hope to get), figure out ways to cultivate and how many cultivation “touches” each prospect will  need, when you hope to solicit.  Of equal importance, figure out how you are stewarding existing donors.

If you don’t (yet) have specific prospects, put in how many you need to identify in each month.  As you do identify, add those names.  Ditto with cultivation—how many touches must you record each month—and solicitations.  And indicate how you will be recognizing the generosity of your donors.

Keep this calendar handy.  You’ll be adding to it all the time.  And using it to evaluate how well you are doing.

While it will be helpful in helping you reach your goals, it will also be really useful in helping you to say no.  When your boss or your board suggest something that will not lead to raising funds, show them the calendar and explain that they can clearly see you really have no time—what would they like you take off the calendar?  Don’t forget to remind them that this is your fundraising calendar—the things you do to raise needed money.

Say no so you are not too busy to fundraise and plan so you use the time you’ve gained wisely and well.

Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity.  Learn more at http://janetlevineconsulting.com or email her at janet@janetlevineconsulting.com.  While there, say yes to the monthly newsletter!