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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

 

Pay It Forward

F. Duke Haddad
How Do You Deal With Nonprofit Professional Potholes?
Mar 6, 2015

Fundraising employment transition becomes a pothole in a sense that it causes disruption, loss of revenue, loss of relationships and...



Peeling the Onion

Katrina VanHuss
Ice Buckets, Viruses and Math
Mar 6, 2015

What other people think is really important to us. If we see a group of people doing something, however weird...



Get What You Give

Joe Boland
NTC 2015: 2015 DoGooder Video Award Winners
Mar 5, 2015

At the day two plenary session during the Nonprofit Technology Network's 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin, Texas, the 2015...



Old Dog Fundraising

Pamela Barden
Fundraiser, You May Have Not Signed Up for This …
Mar 5, 2015

For whatever reason you became a fundraiser, if you want to grow in the field you're going to end up...



It's Your Turn

Larry C Johnson
Making Fundraising Events Pay and Pay and Pay …
Mar 5, 2015

How do you turn participation in a fundraising event into a lasting donor relationship built upon common goals? How do...



Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising

Gail Perry
Major Donor Visits Made Easy in 3 Steps
Mar 4, 2015

Here are three important objectives for every single major donor visit you will ever make....



Bedrocks & Beacons

Jeff Jowdy
You Never Know: The Importance of a Study Before a Major Campaign
Mar 4, 2015

If you really want to maximize fundraising success, you embark on a feasibility study before a major campaign....



Outside Counsel

Willis Turner
Print This Blog: 10 Fundraising Copywriting Guidelines
Mar 2, 2015

The 10 tips below are basic copywriting guidelines that will help you every time you write a fundraising letter, email...



Navigating Off the Napkin

Angie Moore
Donor Centricity: How Do You Measure It?
Mar 3, 2015

It’s easy to say you are becoming donor-centric, but are you measuring your progress?...



Connections

Richard Perry
The Case of the Major Gifts Fundraising Employee Who Didn’t Fit
Mar 2, 2015

A sad situation I observe very frequently is a major gifts manager whose primary skill set is major gifts but...



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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