Where exactly does long term fundraising success comes from? Many board members want to know, so that they can guide their organizations to funding success.
Here’s the answer: What we are all after in the nonprofit sector is a lovely base of donors who will give generously year after year.
Smart fundraising = reliable, sustainable cash flow for your organization.
When that happens (hurray!), these donors provide a consistent, reliable stream of income to fund your organization’s work.
So as a board member, you really want to be looking at fundraising programs that build these sought-after long term donor relationships. That’s what will secure a solid funding stream going into the future.
This post is an excerpt from The Board Member’s Guide to Fundraising:
It’s an easy guide for board members who want to understand how fundraising works today, what kind of strategies are most effective, and how they can help.
Fundraising success depends on a long term, consistent approach.
Building up a loyal donor base takes time – and investments. That’s what will grow that donor base year after year.
One thing board members need to remember is that success raising money does not happen overnight.
The donor base grows over time, as more donors get to know you, and become more engaged with your organization.
Some boards hire a fundraising professional and expect them to come in and immediately work miracles.
But their success depends on what they have to work with.
How large is your base of supporters? How solid are your current contacts and relationships with donors? Have they deteriorated, or are your donors happy and engaged?
Fundraising is a long term proposition.
The smart board member looks at strategic investments in fundraising for the long haul.
Because she knows that consistent funding over time will ultimately achieve the payback you want.
It’s really consistency. Over and over. Keeping at it. Year after year, as supporters get to know you and your reach grows.
The three secrets of long term fundraising success:
1. Put enough resources in the fundraising budget.
The amount of resources your organization is devoting to fundraising needs to be adequate to do the job you’re expecting fundraising to do for you.
In tough times, organizations will cut their fundraising budgets in order to balance the budget.
This is a dangerous move since fundraising is revenue-generating. You are also cutting a large chunk of revenue that you perhaps were planning on.
Adequate funding for fundraising is essential.
We know that well-funded fundraising operations raise more money.
Many universities have armies of major gift fundraisers out there calling on alumni. It’s expensive to hire all those people.
But the universities have run the numbers. They know that every additional fundraiser on their staff may cost $150k to put out on the road – but he or she may be able to bring in millions from happy donors.
So it makes financial sense to invest in the fundraising operation.
2. Make sure your fundraising strategies are consistent from year to year.
You have to keep the same strategies in place for a few years, consistently, in order to gain traction and actually learn how to make them successful.
You might build up organizational knowledge in, for example, securing high dollar sponsorships for your fundraising events.
Or your team may finally perfect your skills in digital fundraising.
Sometimes a board will decide to switch fundraising strategies and devote resources to other fundraising tactics (beware the new bright shiny object trend!) Your revenue results will take a serious hit.
3. Make sure the fundraising office is always fully staffed.
You absolutely want to make sure that your fundraising department is fully staffed. And that there is staff available to execute your various fundraising strategies..
It takes people to actually do the work of fundraising. Because money just doesn’t walk in the door. For example if you are having an event, you need staff to help put on the event. If you’re doing mailings, you need someone to make it happen.
You don’t allow your organization to go many months without someone operating each fundraising program.
If you are missing staff, then important mailings may not go out. Thank you letters for gifts will be late. Fundraising events may not happen. Donor communications are stopped.
Whoops! Then you are losing money from your fundraising revenue stream.
You may be saving money by going without staff, but you are losing even more money because revenue will not be coming in the door.
You begin to lose serious ground by not being in front of your donors.
Relationships with donors have to be fed and maintained. If your donors don’t hear from you often enough, their relationship with you fades away.
BOTTOM LINE: Consistent focus on fundraising is what yields top results.
That means consistent funding, consistent staffing and consistent strategies themselves.
Just think what would be possible for YOUR mission if you and your fellow board members decided on this business-like, long term approach to fundraising! You could change the world that much faster!
Here are the posts to date in the Fundraising Rules for Board Members series: