Today Somya Qureshi is back with another guest post (read her past posts here), this time on easy ways to organize your fundraising work in a more strategic way. ~Kivi
Guest Post by Somya Qureshi, CEO of Nonprofit Ninja
The more conversations I have with fundraisers, the more I realize how important it is to think strategically about fund development, and not let the day-to-day operations get in the way! Always remember that you will raise more money for your mission by focusing on a few key essentials, rather than tweaking the flyer/ postcard design (let’s admit it, we’ve all done that!). It may feel like you’re saving money at that moment, but in reality, it is robbing the organization of the true value you bring to the table!
So, here are 5 strategies that can act as a compass to drive your workdays and get you closer to your fundraising goal. This will be in addition to all other methods of solicitation you’ll do anyway!
Know Thy Donor – If you don’t know who your donors are, then you’re not doing it right. Not the hundreds and thousands of names in your mailing list but the top donors, who consistently fall in the top 10% or 20% of all giving. That’s the Pareto principle (aka 80–20 rule) – 80% of the funds come from 20% of your donors. They could be individuals, or businesses, or religious organizations, or any other constituents that support you. So set aside time to really dig into your database and uncover the top 20%.
Make A Plan – Once you’ve uncovered your top 20% from last year, make a stewardship plan. These are the things you’ll do now through end of the year to cultivate these donors. It could mean a custom tour of your organization, a personal invitation to the spring gala, or coffee with the board chair – what you do does not matter as long as you do something with thought and care. If it’s your first time stewarding donors, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many face-to-face meetings! Be strategic about your time and set reasonable goals.
Work The Plan – If you work in a small to mid-size nonprofit and handle everything that falls into the realm of fundraising/marketing, it’s easy to avoid making the calls/visits. Mark Twain and many others said, “Eat that frog!” – schedule your first hour of the day to work your plan – to make calls, and do house visits before the daily emails and other tasks get in the way. Some donors might respond quickly and favorably, while some others may not. Set up meetings with the community development/foundation executives or mission committees to keep relationships going strong.
Make a Board Cultivation Plan – Remember, the Board can act as the many arms of fundraising that’ll help you achieve your fundraising goal – but they need some stewarding of their own too. Some Board members might be the organization’s large donors, while others may be very well connected in the community. So, meeting them individually to cultivate a relationship and making plans with them to raise funds is a good start.
Schedule Your Ask Date – Your year-round work of relationship building will lead up to your ‘ask’ date – you may not get that with every single donor or partner, but make sure you’re suitably prepared for the ‘ask.’ Remember, people give to people and causes they trust and believe in – and since you have worked on building their trust, you’re in good stride! Some might postpone their major giving to the next year, but the time spent in stewarding and cultivating donors is NEVER a waste! Now, hopefully, you have some Board members who can accompany you for these solicitation meetings to ease some of those butterflies.
And this is just a start! Once you start focusing on major donors, over time, you’ll see big payoffs, which will in turn make you a rockstar fundraiser!
Somya Qureshi is the Resident Ninja and CEO of Nonprofit Ninja, a marketing and fundraising consulting firm. As a social champion and business strategist, Somya is on a mission to help nonprofits organizations think strategically about fund-development, and raise more money than ever to grow their impact. She tweets at @DoGooderNinja.