the most significant barrier to real fundraising success

Much of what I am attempting to remedy at my own organization as well as those that I am assisting with their fundraising efforts is to reduce donor attrition. According to the 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Project report, every $100 gained in 2011 was offset by $100 in losses through gift attrition. The report also indicates that the smaller an organization is the more pronounced the results. Smaller organizations struggle with donor retention at a much higher rate than larger organizations.

Among the organizations that I have worked for or assisted over the years, donor attrition has always been overshadowed by a preference for new donor acquistion...

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We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the process of universe creation is all that complicated- it really isn’t. It means overcoming the fear of engaging individuals all around us.

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How much to ask for

Fundraising professionals are notorious for overcomplicating the question of how much to ask for. Sometimes even before an initial contact is made or with little or no awareness of the donors interest in the organization, fundraising professionals begin strategizing an ask amount. Using greedy and naïve assumptions, fundraising professionals stamp invisible dollar amounts on their unsuspecting donor’s foreheads.

Very rarely have I found that a pre-determined request is particular helpful in the fundraising process. Only after a series of conversations with an individual donor can the fundraising professional be informed enough to ask for a specific gift. Relying on a hunch or an amount given to another organization doesn’t work.

In order to arrive at a specific ask amount, we begin by...

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Behind-the-scenes fundraising

The most effective fundraising professionals are an extraordinary complement to an organization’s senior leaders. Effective fundraisers know very well how to leverage a leader’s influence among the organizations constituency in order to achieve fundraising objectives. However, what I often observe in nonprofit organizations is an unfortunate disconnect between the development office and the executive office that is only frustrating and confusing for everyone involved. The outcomes are often a disregard for existing relationships and an eventual loss of support.

The consequences for fundraisers being insistive to exisiting relationships and CEO’s prioritizing relationships over income often means trouble for non-profit organizations.

There is an alternative- even for small shops.

With m...

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A Big Mistake

Several years ago I made a big mistake. At the time, I was raising lots of money at a large national health charity in Washington DC. I arrived there having only previously worked in smaller faith-based organizations. My boss had a great deal of confidence in me and therefore gave me the opportunity to increase my breadth of experiences very quickly. The job was not unlike most major gift roles– almost like clock-work, we travelled the country asking high-capacity individuals for very generous checks. We raised a lot of money for a cause that we were both very passionate about.

Unfortunately, my time was cut short when I impulsively accepted a position with a bogus consulting company...

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According to the Urban Institute, nearly every organization that depends on donor support could give more attention to people who gave money in the past.

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It’s not sufficient to look only at gains in giving or the number of donors. To understand what is really happening in your organization, it is necessary to analyze both the fundraising gains and the fundraising losses from one year to the next so that you and your organization’s leadership can make growth-oriented decisions about both fundraising budgets and strategies. Bill Levis & Cathlene Williams

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Creating a Universe

This week I introduced my dashboard to a group of educators during a conference breakout. One of the questions posed to me was that of creating a universe and how an organization goes about identifying new prospective donors. The question is a familiar one and one that I believe we complicate more than we have to. What universe-creation really comes down to is identifying and pursuing individuals for whom your mission and vision will resonate and having the audacity to pursue that relationship far enough to involve financial support. Identification doesn’t have to be particularly difficult however it is humorous how disconnected our initial prospects in our efforts to avoid approaching someone we really know...

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Ditch Your Special Events

I am not the only one who has an issue with special events. Gail Perry recognizes that special events are the foundation for many nonprofit fundraising programs and yet they are the most inefficient way of raising money. Gail has discovered that those who champion special events only do so because they don’t know what the more effective alternatives are.

You can raise more money with other fundraising strategies. The ROI you get from an event is far less than other fundraising options… the most efficient way to raise money of all is face-to-face solicitations focusing on major gift donors – that’s only $.05 -.10 on the dollar. Source

Most executive directors and development officers don’t have the courage to follow Gail Perry’s advice and ditch their next event...

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