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ProSpeak

By Who's Up Next?

About ProSpeak

Essays about the nitty-gritty of fundraising, written by the people who do it every day

 

Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising

Gail Perry
The Right Way to Ask
Nov 26, 2014

Always include the impact of the gift when you ask for money. This makes your ask feel not about the...



Bedrocks & Beacons

Jeff Jowdy
Gratitude in 3 Steps
Nov 26, 2014

"If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share," said W. Clement Stone....



Outside Counsel

Willis Turner
Will This Bad Fundraising Idea Ever Die?
Nov 24, 2014

There's a lot of talk about the need for innovation in fundraising. As there should be. But before new ideas...



Connections

Jeff Schreifels
Are You Truly Thankful for Your Donors?
Nov 24, 2014

My question to you: Are you really thankful for all of your donors? Do they know how much they are...



Pay It Forward

F. Duke Haddad
Consistent Performance Is Key
Nov 21, 2014

Think about your work performance, and strive to give it your best each day. You will drive home with a...



Get What You Give

Joe Boland
St. Joseph's Indian School Responds to CNN's 'Fictitious Kids' Claims
Nov 19, 2014

St. Joseph's Indian School responds to CNN's claims that the school used fundraising letters "signed by fictitious kids." It's a...



Old Dog Fundraising

Pamela Barden
A Pre-Holiday Gift for Fundraisers: More Time
Nov 20, 2014

If you are hoping for a personal copy of Hermione's time turner, I can't help you (sorry, non-Harry Potter fans),...



It's Your Turn

Larry C Johnson
Blasting Off With Social Media
Nov 20, 2014

Change is coming to philanthropy. Big change. Hoping it will "blow over" is not a workable response. Doing what you've...



Outrageous Hope

Margaret Battistelli
Our Virtual Show Is Fast Approaching
Nov 18, 2014

The FundRaising Success Virtual Conference and Expo is free, and it's only a few weeks away, so be sure to...



Navigating Off the Napkin

Angie Moore
You Need a Social Plan Before You Start Playing With the Social Channels
Nov 10, 2014

Why? Because 53 percent of you are not measuring your social-media efforts and 67 percent have no social-media strategy. We...



Donor Trippin'

Nick Allen
Is There an App for Us?
Jul 1, 2014

Got an idea for an app that could connect a charity or nonprofit with its supporters and beneficiaries in an...



Raising the Possibilities

Thaddeus B. Kubis
Recurring Themes: The Case for Integrated Marketing Communications, Part 2
Dec 27, 2013

Recent discussions focus on a myriad of topics, but in the past two months, the recurring targeted topics seem to...



Hump Day Hullabaloo

Jo Sullivan
Hump Day Hullaballoo: Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway
May 22, 2013

This week, as I transition into my new position as interim executive director at Save the Chimps, we're talking about...



The Difference Between Fundraising and Development

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Fundraising. Resource Development. It's the same thing, right? Or is it?

Many people use these terms interchangeably, but I think there's a significant difference, especially for folks working in a small shop. When you're overworked and maybe overwhelmed, it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of raising money. You need the dollars, right? Gotta make budget, right? Programs can't be delivered without funds, right?

Right, right, and right.

Except that sometimes it's wrong to focus just on the dollars. Consider these situations:

Case A: The executive director of a small nonprofit is responsible for everything — administration, fundraising, supporting the board, and overseeing operations. The organization hosts a variety of small fundraising events throughout the year, which generate a considerable amount of publicity and attract lots of people through ticket sales.

Case B: A regional nonprofit produces a very popular 5K race that is highly anticipated each year among area runners. A local restaurant is the main sponsor and provides a lavish picnic at the end of the race to all the runners.

Case C: A well-known and respected local organization sends out an annual direct-mail piece in the fall. The appeal brings in a small amount of money, which goes directly toward the bottom line of its annual fundraising campaign.

This all sounds good right?

Except that it's not. In each of these cases, money is being raised. But that's about it. None of these activities are sustainable they way they are. None are being leveraged to their capacity. And there are problems that need to be addressed.

Here's the rest of the story.
Case A: This organization has gotten itself on the special event hamster wheel. In the absence of knowledge, the board focuses on events. That's all the members know how to do so that's what they do. And while the community supports each of the small events, many people consider their ticket purchase as their "gift" to the organization, which leaves no room for individual donor development. And frankly, some people in the community are getting tired of all the events (not to mention how tired the staff and volunteers are from working them!).

What development might look like: If this organization cut out half of its events and instead spent the time on developing relationships with its best individual donor prospects, it would come out way ahead in the long run. All of these events don't provide sustainable funding for the organization and the important work it does in the community. Committed individual donors do. Individuals who feel a connection to the organization and a loyalty to its mission will give year after year. It's like having a group of good friends who will stick with you no matter what.

Case B: At first glance, this seems like a good event. But when you consider staff time in the budget, this event could be losing money or at best breaking even (which is very common with this kind of event). Also consider that the audience is very limited and are focused on improving their running time, not necessarily supporting the cause.

What development might look like: This organization needs to go one of two ways: Either modify the event to appeal to a wider audience or stop doing the event. To modify the event, the nonprofit might add a walk, encouraging participants to seek pledges and focusing on how the money from the event will make a difference. This will help increase both the quantity and quality of participants. With careful strategy, the walk participants can become donors to the organization.

Case C: This is a case of smoke and mirrors. The organization is so focused on hitting its annual fundraising goal that it counts every dollar it possibly can add to the final total. Its direct-mail appeal isn't particularly well done and goes out to a list of people who aren't regularly communicated with. The result is a lackluster response, and when you look at the expenses, the nonprofit is losing money on this activity.

What development might look like: The organization needs to do a better job overall of cultivating relationships with donors throughout the year, including keeping them updated about the work being done in the community to change lives. A strong appeal mailed after a series of meaningful communications will likely generate significantly more revenue for the organization.

In each of these scenarios, looking at just the dollars raised doesn't reveal the whole story. These activities are focused on the immediate money raised and are considered fundraising activities. In order to build for the future, each organization needs to shift its focus away from fundraising and instead pay attention to development — developing donor relationships that lead to long-term organizational sustainability.

Sandy Rees is a nonprofict coach and consultant fundraising coach and consultant, specializing in helping small nonprofit organizations raise more money, strengthen theirb oards, and build relationships with donors. Reach her at sandy@sandyrees.com

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