For those of you who know me, resolutions are not my thing. I tend to decide to do something because I want or need to. Time of year has little to do with it. But as 2011 approached there was all this talk about resolutions and it made me think about our work in fundraising.

We are on a fundraising treadmill (not the exercising kind) and we need to get off! We need to have resolutions that are revolutionary! RESOLUTIONARY!

  • For every six donors we acquire we lose six1.
  • For every $4.50 we raise we lose $61.
  • We raised more than $303B in 2009 equal to 2% of GDP1. In 1960, we raised 2% of GDP! So what impact has all this fundraising had in the past 50 years?
  • Our Boards (well some of our Boards) still don’t get “it”.
  • We must have a serious, consistent major gift program to create donor loyalty and move them up the fundraising pyramid.
  • Silos don’t work now or ever – especially for our donors, let alone internally. Integrated communications and fundraising is necessary effectively acquire, retain, cultivate, renew, upgrade and steward our prospects and donors.

Resolutionary solutions:

  • Embrace technology beyond an online giving program. How about an on and off line cultivation program? An email welcome series for new donors. A focused outreach to lapsed donors. Regular, consistent, customized communications.
  • Know your donors are beyond their wealth screening score. Using technology we know who opened an email (don’t get that from mail), what link they clicked, how many times – in essence they have raised their hand and said, “I see what you are doing and it interests me.” We can respond to this and create donor-centered programs to continue the conversation.
  • We need to show our donors we care about them through thoughtful communication. Topics and programs of interest to them.
  • We need to fill the gap between our annual giving donors and ultimate donors. If we don’t create a pipeline for major donors, we will continue to churn six in, six out. Commit to using some of the ideas mentioned above to identify who you should be talking to, when and about what. If your major giving program starts at $5,000 – what’s the plan to identify those in your donorbase who can, should, need to be cultivated up the giving pyramid?
  • A capital campaign is an opportunity to raise more than money and awareness. It should create or build upon culture of philanthropy for your donors, organization and community. It allows donors to create legacies, step up, lead and feel good (not necessarily in that order). Campaigns should not create donor fatigue and our work inspiring donors should not go on hiatus until the next campaign.

Be RESOLUTIONARY. Make real change to the way you work. But make change that makes a difference, not more “busy work”. Set your priorities to meet your goals. Be sure your goals are donor centric. Focus your work on the donors who raise their hands. Cultivate, communicate, integrate, fundraise – lather, rinse and repeat!

1The Fundraising Effectiveness Project

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