Dare To Be Different--Plan!

Fundraising. Creating relationships. Asking for support. Keeping those who support you Untitledclose so they will want to support you again. Easy. Right? So why do so many have such difficulty?

It starts with planning. Or rather, the utter and complete lack of. I am amazed at how many nonprofits have no clue what they are currently raising and how they are doing it, let alone how much they actually need to raise in order not just to keep the doors open but to flourish and grow.

From that, comes the refusal to look at what techniques of fundraising would be best for the organization given its culture and resources.

And it moves forward—such as it moves forward—with not thinking through what you want to accomplish with the specific steps you are taking.

For example, when you have a special event, who—beyond the immediate revenue you hope to bring in—do you want to happen?

Of course, first you would have to know who your audience will be. If the only people coming to your dinner are already committed donors, you probably don’t need to tell them how wonderful your organization is. They already know that.

So what would you want to do for such an audience? I can think of a few things:

  • Thank them for what they have done
  • Recognize the importance of their support
  • Show them specifics of how their support has mattered
  • Tell them about what you intend to do moving forward—with their continued support

What other things can you think of?

But what if most of the people coming to your event are actually friends of your honoree and don’t have a clue what you do (and probably care as little)? Yes, of course, you want to show them the wonderful work you do, but that—by itself—will not convince many (if any!) of them to become ardent supporters. They’ll give large now for your honoree. What kinds of things can you do at the event to make at least some of these people want to learn more?

  • Certainly I would want to bring existing donors up and have them tell how their lives have been improved by supporting the work of your organization
  • Bring a client, show some pictures NOT (only) about how your work changed their lives, but about how your donors support made a difference.

In other words, celebrate those who make your work possible and tell every story from that point of view.

And then, dare to be different—create a plan before the event (or the meeting, or the appeal) that clearly outlines what you (and anyone else involved) will do the following day and all the days after that.