It’s a few weeks into the new year and, hopefully, you have set your new fundraising goals for the year. And, if you intend to achieve those goals, we also hope that you have a fundraising plan with a stewardship calendar) in place. There is a reason for the adage, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
How did you set your fundraising goal?
Let’s talk about the reality of your situation. Choose the letter that best describes your nonprofit’s fundraising goals for the year:
- I/we kept our fundraising goal the same as last year.
- I/we took the current budget and increased our fundraising goal by XX%.
- I/we looked at the budget shortfall and added that to the amount we raised last year to create our fundraising goal.
- I/we looked at what we raised last year, estimated we would have the same donor retention and new acquisition rates, and created our fundraising goal based on similar results.
- I/we looked at what we raised last year, estimated that we could implement a stewardship calendar that could help retain previous gifts while increasing our donor retention by 10% this year. We added an estimated amount based on those proportions to our fundraising goal.
- I/we looked at what we raised last year, estimated we could implement a stewardship calendar that could help increase our donor retention by 10% this year, determined we could hold three first-time donor events and three introduction emails to increase our first-time donor retention by 20%, and examine our lapsed donors above $1,000 for the past five years by looking at donors who could be reactivated. Then we established estimated increases for each category and added that to our fundraising goal.
The truth is, it is hard to get from A to F. It requires resources – human and financial. You cannot take the time to analyze your giving patterns, if you do not have someone to collect the data and analyze it. Even if you outsource the analysis – Mersky Jaffe & Associates can help you with this – you still need the resources to turn the findings into funding.
You will need resources for all aspects of your plan. Creating an overall stewardship calendar? You may want to send out additional snail mail letters. Creating a planned giving program? You might need collateral. Wondering how to deepen the engagement with first time donors? You might want to have coffee with the strongest prospects. That all takes time and money.
Need it spelled out? Assuming you can increase the amount of money you raise this yea, without changing what you are doing, is a sure way to disappoint yourself, the executive director and board.
So, instead of considering what will not get done as a consequence of your new areas of focus, think about what resources you will need. And ask for them. Could additional administrative help alleviate some stress? Do you need a new development professional? Is there a way to shift current under-utilized staff time to focus more on fundraising?
I know that budgets are tight and adding staff may not be high on your list of priorities. But you can’t raise more money without a plan on how to get there. Of course, it depends on how much you are hoping to raise. Trying to increase your numbers by $100,000 or more? It may be time to increase your human resources. And know that the hire will more than pay for itself within a few years—even ten times over.
To quote another adage, “It takes money to raise money.” At least, that’s the adage as I remember it.