Tag Archives: Systems

Feeling Frantic About Fundraising? 5 Suggestions to Help

Feeling Frantic About Fundraising? Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

You are not alone. As we begin to see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, we have to consider what we need to accomplish in 2021.

And 2021 is a ¼ over.

  • Am I doing enough?
  • Will I be able to retain my new donors?
  • Will my 2020 LYBUNTS return?
  • Will I go back on the road to talk to donors?
  • Will other organizations be doing it if I am not?
  • Should I feel relieved or guilty about the strength of my nonprofit right now?
  • Do we need to hire staff to help us handle our new donor base?
  • Will these donors continue to support us so that we can afford new staff?
  • Is everyone feeling frantic about fundraising?

We know we have so much to do, and it feels like it all must be done today. Because it didn’t get done last week when it really should have been done.

Breathe. Or meditate. Or do whatever has calmed you down over the past year. And consider:

Where do we go from here? 5 Suggestions to stop feeling frantic about fundraising in 2021

  1. Assess your donors. Look at your donor retention levels for First Time Donors vs. Multi-year Donors vs. Monthly Donors. How do you match up to benchmark statistics? (email me if you want our benchmarks.)          
  2. Assess your donor pool without events. Many nonprofit events are smaller or not happening again this year. Now is the time to use those event hours towards your relationships with individual donors. And see if you can raise more money. In other words, events are often very costly and time consuming to produce so think of the resources you can dedicate to another initiative. (Please note: Events can be great community builders and friend-raisers but rarely offer the ROI of individual donors).
  3. Assess your staff. Do you have the right staff for the future? Do they have the bandwidth to handle your new donors in addition to the job they already do? Is it time to invest in your organization’s human resources?
  4. Assess your systems. Do you have a CRM that works for your nonprofit? Do you have recent prospect research? Do you send acknowledgements out within 24-48 hours?
  5. Assess your strategic plan. A strategic plan in 2018 might not look the same in 2021. Does the work look the same for your nonprofit? Are your board, volunteer, and staff priorities different? Would your SWOT analysis remain true?

Yes, we are big into assessments. We see it as taking a breath and looking internally before you charge forward into this post-pandemic world. Of course, if you would like us to help with your assessments email me.

And, hopefully, you can stop feeling frantic about fundraising and start feeling confident about moving forward.

Good Fundraising Data Can Enable You to Have the Best Year Ever

Fundraising Data Planning

The turn of the calendar page to June is a sure harbinger of warmer days ahead, and, as summer approaches, a development officer’s mind often turns to planning.

Today, a clear understanding of your fundraising data is the foundation for sound development planning.  Are you and your colleagues and—most importantly—the board of your agency looking at the right information, measuring the right outcomes?

Analyzing and reporting fundraising metrics is great, if they are the right measures.  And, if you don’t have organized fundraising data to start with you are setting yourself up for disaster.  Here are three impediments that I have encountered that prevent good analysis and planning.

1. Your data is spread across many different databases so that you have no consistent method for aggregating data.

Your organization stores donation data in multiple, siloed databases.  Siloed is the key word here. What holds you back from becoming data-driven is that all your disparate systems cannot communicate with one another.

What if you want to perform a “recapture campaign,” a series of targeted appeals to recently lapsed donors to reactivate them?  If all your data lives together in one system, you can easily identify the lapsed donors you want to target. But if you keep your donor data in separate systems, say by department or gift type, you’ll have to spend valuable time aggregating all your spreadsheets, cleaning your data, and developing a new set of unique donor IDs. That’s time that could be spent elsewhere, and it introduces plenty of opportunities for error.

2. There is no clear champion for fundraising data management.

Having access to data is one thing, but having someone who is dedicated to mining that information for insights and benefit to the organization is another. Without one person taking ownership of data analysis, this essential work never gets done.

3. Fundraising Data is not valued

The third—and single most important—hurdle to data-driven fundraising success is a lack of “data respect” among professional and volunteer leadership. When leadership is so focused on the bottom line, they neglect or misunderstand the significance of data analysis.

Some board members view fundraising metrics, trend spotting, and data-driven fundraising as a distraction from traditional development activities. Thus, when a board meeting comes around, and a director of development attempts to share their good news regarding an increase in donor lifetime value or an uptick in donor reactivation and retention, they are chided rather than lauded.  The singular focus on how much money was contributed this year is important.  More important, however, is understanding the impact of the year’s development plan and programs on donor lifetime value as well as

  • acquisition of first time donors
  • increase or reduction of lapsed donors
  • retention of last year’s contributors
  • reactivation of former donors
  • increase or decrease in amount given by each donor and the list as a whole

The bottom-line culture of most nonprofits is not conducive to thinking strategically with data-driven decision making. Instead, bad numbers are swept “under the rug,” and the realities of critical fundraising data are ignored.

Are you ready to be more data driven?  Email me at David A. Mersky or call me at (800)361-8689 and I will help you analyze your development data at no cost to you or your organization.  Then, this summer you can create a donor engagement plan that will enable you to break all fundraising records for your organization.

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