16 Provocative Ideas That Will Raise More Money

I am just back from an intense 4 days at the AFP International Fundraising Conference.

And I listened to some of fundraising’s most brilliant – and provocative –  leaders.  Here’s what’s on the mind of some of our smartest thinkers.

Do consider these ideas NOW. They may go against your typical practices.

But I promise, absolutely, that you will raise more money if you implement them.

1. Go All Out for Monthly Donors On Your Home Page.

Monthly donors are worth gold to you. On average, they will stay for 10 YEARS. Put the ask right on your home page.

The ideal monthly appeal ties a monthly ask to something specific. “$31 a month will do xxxx.”  Harvey McKinnon

2. Focus on Fewer – Not More Donors.

You don’t make more money by having more donors. The more donors you accumulate – the less profitable your fundraising program. (Penelope Burk)

3. Encourage Restricted Giving.

Restricted asks raise more money. Period.  We are holding our philanthropy back, because we are asking for unrestricted rather than restricted. (Penelope Burk)

4.  Get Rid of the Words.

Put your whole message in the first 150 words. The rest of your copy just backs it up.  (Tom Ahern)

5.  Get Rid of “Unmet Needs,” “Programs,” “Services.”

Write like you are an outsider to your organization. Get rid of the boring, obtuse jargon. Jargon is a flame retardant! (Tom Ahern)

6.  Make Your Case Like a Series of Ads.

Add photos while you get rid of words. Create your case or your fundraising materials with the fewest words and the best photos. (Tom Ahern)

7.  Hire More Fundraisers.

Saying, “We can’t hire any more staff.” is stupid. Each additional fundraising staffer upticks gross fundraising revenue. Period. (Penelope Burk)

8.  Give Your Fundraising Staff Raises.

Money is the #1 reason fundraising staff leaves. Investing in retention of staff will make you money. Retention boosts profit.

Extend young staff from 18 months to 30 months saves you money. (Burk)

9. Get Rid of the Raise Money Now Mindset.

31% of fundraisers who are planning to leave their jobs will leave because of  an unrealistic “old school” culture of fundraising: ie, “you HAVE to bring in the $ NOW.”

How much more money could you raise if you took a long term, strategic approach? (Burk)

10. You Must Give Your Staff Management Training.

Success in business is 95% in the management of other people. But we cut staff training first whenever there is a shortfall. Training is essential. There’s not enough management training in nonprofits.(Burk)

11. Get Rid of Lousy Board Members Now.

Allowing a lousy, nonperforming board member to serve out their term is, two words: “Chicken S***”  (Simone Joyaux)

12. Be Blatant.

Try this: “With your help, all these amazing things happened. And without your help, they won’t.”  You‘re selling the impact of the donor’s gift. (Tom Ahern)

13. Stop Talking About The Money You Need.

You choose:

A case is about the opportunity you‘re putting in front of the donor.


A case is about your organization‘s need for cash. (Ahern)

14. Become a Shrink.

When dealing with volunteers, you are a psychologist not a fundraiser!  (Laura Fredricks)

15. Don’t Believe Your Prospect, When. . .

If he says, “I’m just a plain ole country boy,” it really means he is a wealthy prospect! (Eli Jordfald)

16. Close Down Some Programs.

Leaders will close or giveaway a program or activity that is no longer profitable and has little impact.

So were these ideas provocative? Would they challenge your status quo?

Remember fundraising is changing. Donors are changing.

Doing what you’ve always done the same old way will get you yesterday’s results.

Go for it! Change is good.

Use this article to rattle some cages!

And please forward it to a friend – and I’d really appreciate your comments.