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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

 

Peeling the Onion

Katrina VanHuss
Insufficient Justification
Apr 17, 2015

Often, I find that my clients have spent a lot of time and effort soliciting really nice gifts like airline...



Pay It Forward

F. Duke Haddad
So You Want to Be a Fundraising Consultant?
Apr 17, 2015

If you ask consultants how they became one, their answers cover a spectrum. I find it interesting that many practitioners...



It's Your Turn

Larry C Johnson
Getting the Right People on the Bus
Apr 16, 2015

The word "business" conjures up visions of overweening corporate greed rather than the requirement that all—ALL—viable organizations must have a...



Old Dog Fundraising

Pamela Barden
Looking at Fundraising Through Fresh Eyes
Apr 16, 2015

One of the (several) things I enjoy about teaching fundraising courses at a couple of universities is the opportunity to...



Bedrocks & Beacons

Jeff Jowdy
Do You Have a Drop-in Plan?
Apr 15, 2015

A man dressed in jeans and a rumpled shirt walked into the lobby and asked to see the executive director....



Navigating Off the Napkin

Angie Moore
I Am Lapsed and I Still Got a Customer Feedback Survey
Apr 14, 2015

I haven't donated in a while to this charity but after doing the online survey, it made me want to...



Outside Counsel

Willis Turner
16 Totally Whacked Shortcuts to Summon Your Fundraising Muse
Apr 13, 2015

Every so often you just get stuck when you need an idea. All writers know this. And we all know...



Connections

Richard Perry
The Meaning of 'No'
Apr 13, 2015

The work of a major gifts officer (MGO) is filled with "no's." That's the nature of the job. And I...



Get What You Give

Joe Boland
NonProfit PRO Leadership Conference: Navigating a Difficult Nonprofit Environment
Mar 24, 2015

At the inaugural NonProfit PRO Leadership Conference May 5 in Washington, D.C., Paul Bellantone, president and CEO of Promotional Products...



Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising

Gail Perry
5 Keys to Get in the Door With a Mega-Capacity Donor
Mar 18, 2015

So you've identified your big kahuna potential prospect, your mega-capacity donor. What next? How do you get in the door?...



Digging Deeper

Matt Hugg
Go for the Green: Prepare for Year-End Fundraising Today
Mar 17, 2015

If you're on a June/July fiscal year, you need to make plans now for a strong year's end. That means...



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...



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...



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...



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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