Fundraising Success: What to Start, Stop, Continue

I’m having one of those days. Every blog post I start, I get stuck at paragraph two. Or I get all the way down and realize that I’ve not said anything worth saying. Ever have one of those? It’s tempting to just throw in the towel. Quit. Not do this but, instead do that—“that” being anything that is easier, less stressful. But that feels like a recipe for failure. And while I like failure as a learning tool, I much prefer success as a general rule.

Often, when I begin working with a nonprofit, it is apparent that at least in their fundraising efforts all days are one of those days. And mainly those responsible for fundraising resort of to doing that all the time.

So rather than actually building relationships, they worry about things like tablecloths and napkins, or wordsmithing an appeal letter to death. In short, anything but fundraising.

If that’s you—and if you fundraising totals for this year were less than you could have hoped—it is not too late to think about how to change next year. Start with a big, bold decision of what you want to accomplish next year. Increase funding? Retain more donors? Get new ones? Whatever you goal is, write it down.

Then write what, to reach your goal, do you have to start doing. For example, if you want to retain more donors, you will have to think of new ways to engage your existing donors. What will that take? Keep drilling down on how you will secure relationships.

As you look at the list of new things you must do, consider what you will have to stop doing to make room and resources for those new activities.

And finally, consider what things—regardless of time or desire—you absolutely must continue to do.

Don’t stop there. There must be more than one thing you want to accomplish/improve in the next year. What is another thing? And what do you need to start, stop, and continue to get to where you want to go?

If you think this through—and then develop a plan that will allow you get to all those things that have to be done, you probably will find yourself at the end of next year much happier with your results—and excited about how to improve those.

Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity, build stronger boards and more effective staff.  Learn how she can help you and your organization at