Must reads right now and a particular favorite.
I get and read a lot of books and workbooks. Some are academic, like Adrian Sargeant's books, and some are lighter fare. From all of these books, I've learned a good deal about how to be a thoughtful fundraiser. With all that is going on now, I have gone back to several of them for ideas and guidance. Looking for a thoughtful way to transverse this new world of fundraising during a pandemic. The one that I think has been the most help is Tom Ahern's What Do Donor's Want and Why? If you haven't read it, I obviously would highly recommend it. It is an excellent reminder that, especially in these times of great challenge, that donors still want what they have always wanted to know that they are making a thoughtful difference to your cause. They don't want to hear about how great you are at serving your cause. They want to hear about how they are serving your mission. If you only have time to read one book, this is the one I would say read. You won't be sorry. You can click on the image of the book to find ways to get your own copy. I know you will enjoy it and it will be very helpful.
Fundraising in the
A friend just called me to discuss her situation at her non-profit. The effect of the COVID-19 on her fundraising plans are disastrous as it is for everyone. She works for a large organization that doesn't have a strong fundraising program, so this was going to be a building year. She had made some good progress with her team, all of which now seems for naught. She had to cancel one fundraiser and is not sure if the Fall event will happen. Who knows what Fall will be like for any of us. So what can she do? First, take a deep breath, then make sure she is taking care of yourself. You will be no good for your cause if you get sick.
Now, take a real hard look at your resources. How good is your team, and are they coming up to the plate. Ask each of them to come up with two things they can do in their fundraising area during this time that would either immediately bring in funds or can be ready to go when things move to our new normal.
Let me take a moment to explain the idea of our "new normal." What I mean by that is that things will not go back to "the way they were." I believe we are changed forever as a nation, and cities like New York, LA, and New Orleans will certainly not be the same - how could they be? I don't know what we will be, but it will be different, and we should prepare ourselves for that reality. Now back to my friend's issue.
As the leader of the department and the one ultimately responsible for the contributed income goal for the organization, she needs to be strategic in how she reviews her staff's plans. Which ones can they do now, and how much support will they raise. One idea that will surely be brought up is an Emergency Fund. This is the type of campaign that can only be done once and has to be well thought through? When you cry wolf, make sure the wolf is really at your door, not just in the neighborhood. Let's assume you don't feel that it is the right time for an Emergency Fund. You can give your supporters multiple opportunities to support your organization. I actually, think you can send out more E-appeals and direct mail appeals than usual. People have a great deal on their minds, so it will take more impressions than usual before someone reacts.
So send that pre-planned direct mail or newsletter piece then follow up with a weekly eblast. I might even rotate between a direct ask e-appeal and soft ask e-appeal.
So what should my friend do rally the troops gather ideas and move forward? Most importantly, move forward. Our "new normal" is still in the future. For now, we have to go with our fundraising gut and allow our supporters to be their best selves.
It Occurs To Me
It has been an amazing year, to say the least. I am part of a group of senior-level fundraisers who meet monthly to talk about the issues we face doing our jobs. We discuss everything from staff issues, board relationships, and managing up, down, and all around. This group has been very helpful to me. If you don't have a space like this maybe you should do the thoughtful thing and start one. Contact your peers even if you don't know them. You have a great deal in common and I bet they will appreciate the chance to meet. Give it a try.
Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.