Friday, July 12, 2013

5 Ways to Improve Your Fundraising Now.

Excellent fundraisers, as well as average ones often find themselves reaching a plateau when it comes to their fundraising abilities and the dollar amounts that they raise.  On a plateau, it is just as easy to move upward as it is to slip backwards; losing progress. Fundraisers are only interested in moving in one direction; upward.

pla•teau (plæˈtoʊ; esp. Brit. ˈplæt oʊ) 
n., pl. -teaus, -teaux (-ˈtoʊz, -toʊz) 
v. -teaued, -teau•ing. n.1. a land area having a relatively level surface considerably raised above adjoining land on at least one side.
2. a period or state of little or no growth or decline, esp. one in which increase or progress ceases: to reach a plateau in one's career.v.i.3. to reach a state or level of little or no growth or decline; stabilize

Definitions #2 and #3 have the most significance in fundraising, but definition #1 can be a useful visualization tool.

So how do we get beyond the fundraising plateau?

  1. Go back to basics. Find something in your fundraising routine that can be improved and work on it. Can your greeting be made more friendly? Can your donation requests be tightened up? What ever it is, work on it. Working on any one issue has the added benefit of providing new perspectives on other issues.
  2. Ask the donor. Ask donors, whether, they give or not, what they thought of your performance. Most will provide at least one useful bit of information. Some donors will provide so much valuable criticism that you may find yourself reexamining your entire fundraising strategy.
  3. Ask another fundraiser. Sometimes we let shyness, pride or professional competition get in the way of improving our skills. Every fundraiser, at every stage, goes through the plateau problem. Reach out to your fellow fundraisers and get their advice.
  4. Become an expert. Often after fundraising for a certain cause for a long time, fundraisers began to feel like experts on the issue. There is always more to learn. Find books magazine articles and any other materials that you can. The more you know about your issue, the better you can fund raise for it.
  5. Remember, Plateaus aren't permanent. Keep slugging away, doing the best job that you possibly can. Eventually, you will begin to see some progress.
These are just a few of the ways to overcome getting into a rut. Actually the only limitations to becoming a better fundraiser are your imagination and the amount of effort that you are willing to put into improving. Remember, plateau or not, there is always room for improvement.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Future of Fundraising is Local.

With the economy finally starting to gain some traction, few people are thinking about those whom society is le aving behind. These are the working poor, the sick and the elderly. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, we will see more soldiers and their families in need.

Sometimes fundraising calls for a national effort. The only way to gather money and resources quickly is by calling or mailing into every state for support. This is a proven method of soliciting money. This isn't the case for every fundraising effort however.

There are some issues that could just as well be taken care of locally. Additionally, some causes are actually better served by using local fundraisers. Local has a number of benefits; we'll name a few below.

More of the money goes to the cause.
Some national fundraising companies can take as much as 80% of what they raise for an organization. Millions of dollars are wasted in this way. Local groups just can't afford to pay these prices. A local campaign, whether staffed by volunteers or local professionals, ensures that more of the donated dollars go to work immediately.

No one knows local issues like local people.
Using locals to fund raise means having a team that understands the issue and is passionate about it. The more knowledgeable and interested in an issue a fundraiser is, the more likely they are to secure donations.

As a nation, a number of important issues are affecting Americans;
children going to bed hungry, seniors and veterans not getting the care that they deserve and homelessness are just a few of these issues. What all of these issues all have in common is that they begin and end locally.

We can choose to wait for a solution from Washington, but President Obama's job forces him to look at the big issues, not the small ones. National organizations face similar problems; they have the money and resources, but not the organization to implement relief locally. Local fundraisers raising and spending money locally have an immediate effect on communities.

Bringing the idea of raising money in the community and solving problems locally is one whose time has come. More local groups are starting to see the power of collecting donations at home. As the idea spreads, the benefits will only become greater.