On Not Getting Stuck

Probably the most irritating thing about my work is what I’ve come to think of as radio silence.  It’s the void that opens up when an existing client isn’t ready to move forward or a prospective client isn’t ready to make a decision about whether or not to hire me.  Yes and no are not that hard for people to say;  I don’t know, I’m not ready are apparently really difficult. I know it is really hard for me—it makes planning impossible.  And it makes me feel like a horrible nag. Voice mail, email, text.  What’s going on…we need to…have you…what’s the status of.  I hate it.

I hate it for myself, but I mostly hate it for my clients and would be clients.  It means they are stuck somewhere, unable to move forward which too often means they are actually starting to fall back.

At some point in many of my workshops I note that if you came to this class hoping to hear about the magic bullet of fundraising, now was the time to really listen up because I am about to reveal it:  Consistency.  Regularity, constancy, reliability, dependency.   It also takes commitment.

Fundraising is one of those things that too many people think is someone else’s responsibility.  The Board thinks it belongs to the ED or the development director, who think it really sits at the Board table.  The rest of the staff is sure it is not their chore,  and other volunteers are convinced that the are already doing their job-and fundraising is not part of it.

But, really, for fundraising to be successful, it has to be everyone’s job—and it has to be sitting at the center of the organization.

That said, the ED or the DoD are the managers of the process. It is up to them to keep things moving.

Starting and stopping fundraising initiatives is the kiss of death.  Remember—consistency is the key.  And that means that fundraising is always happening.  You don’t stop cultivating major donors because the annual gala is upon you, nor do you push back the annual appeal because there is a new grant to write.

Every year you must have clarity on what it is that you need to accomplish:  How much do you need to raise and for what purposes?  Then you need clarity on how you will best reach these goals.

Be realistic.  If you need to raise an additional $750,000 for a special project, you are not going to do this with gifts of $1,000 or even $10,000.  And you certainly will not do it with lesser gifts.

At the same time, you need to maintain (or grow!) your annual fund.  It is these monies that allow the trains to run on time.  So how are you going to get it all done? Right—a plan, with a timeline.  And a commitment that this matters and this must get done.  And if that matters, you cannot allow yourself to get stuck.  You cannot avoid making the hard decisions.

Whatever you have to do, face it—and get it done.  And then, move on to the next thing.

Janet Levine helps nonprofits increase their fundraising capacity, build more engaged boards, and generally helps organizations get unstuck.  Learn how she can help you at http://janetlevineconsulting.com or email her at janet@janetlevineconsulting.com