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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

 

Get What You Give

Joe Boland
2012 FS Lifetime Achievement Honoree Geoff Peters Named 2015 Max Hart Nonprofit Achievement Award Winner
Jan 23, 2015

The DMA Nonprofit Federation is honoring Geoff Peters, CEO of Moore Direct Marketing Group, for his dedicated service with the...



Pay It Forward

F. Duke Haddad
The Fundraiser's Daily Grind
Jan 23, 2015

To give it your best you must be on top of your game and give 100 percent. Our jobs are...



Old Dog Fundraising

Pamela Barden
Fundraisers: Let's Get Hungry Again
Jan 22, 2015

Often, the hungrier a fundraiser is, in terms of needing to acquire and retain donors, the more he or she...



Get Engaged

Margaret Battistelli
What's Cooking in 2015?
Jan 7, 2015

Here's your chance to chime in and help us paint a picture of trends and best practices across all aspects...



It's Your Turn

Larry C Johnson
Looking for Donors? It's Inside Out
Jan 22, 2015

Nonprofit boards should conduct peer solicitations of themselves annually. Doing so both raises the commitment levels of individual board members...



Bedrocks & Beacons

Jeff Jowdy
Fundraising: It's Not the Pitch
Jan 21, 2015

Major-gifts fundraising isn't about "the pitch." It's not about a presentation. It is about having a meaningful conversation with prospective...



Navigating Off the Napkin

Angie Moore
Year-End Email Under a Microscope
Jan 20, 2015

Steve MacLaughlin, director of analytics at Blackbaud, goes to great lengths to provide insight to us all, and he has...



Outside Counsel

Willis Turner
Microsoft Word: The Fundraiser’s Frienemy
Jan 19, 2015

We copywriters have powerful tools at our disposal. Microsoft Word probably leads the pack. It makes our jobs faster and...



Connections

Richard Perry
Critical Elements of a Major-Gifts Officer Job Description
Jan 19, 2015

Please be very diligent to write good job descriptions for each major-gifts officer. It is so important that these good...



Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising

Gail Perry
Mega Donors Making Mega Gifts
Jan 7, 2015

The top 10 biggest charitable gifts in 2014 came to a combined total of an amazing $3.3 billion. Imagine that...



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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