Failure is an Option

December 5, 2017 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

I am 57 years old and have my share of failures. I am sure I will have more in the future. I try to learn from failure.

As Silicon Valley built a new kind of entrepreneurial platform – failing, failing fast and learning as you go became acceptable. This “learn from failure” theory slowly crept into the nonprofit and fundraising sector – along with the opportunity to embrace a new kind of fundraising.

It started with online fundraising – and more transactional communications. Testing became the norm (or should be) including AB testing, opt ins and outs, many cheaper short term “campaigns” to lessen failure. The dollar cost of this learning was and continues to be high.

To some extent online fundraising has “trained” donors on how we will treat them – whether the donor likes it or not. Donors quickly learned to opt out and screamed foul when they received multiple email solicitations in succession. Or donors return direct mail unopened (at least we know they received it – the rest of the 99% went in the trash or had bad addresses.)

The nonprofit sector had been told “the more times you ask – the more people give.” Not so much. Yes, yes online giving in the US is UP! Are they new donors, repeat or upgrades? Every year online giving increases – leading up to the last few days of the calendar year when 30% of all US giving is received. See we have trained our donors…….and nonprofit organizations put this fundraising strategy in place – banking on that 30% to make or break the fundraising goal. My friends, if expected giving doesn’t happen during the last week December – you got no time to make up the difference! Hope is not a strategy. How are Australians giving – Read a quick synopsis of Giving Australia 2016 study.

I would like to make a case for a diverse fundraising program. A fundraising strategy that creates:

  • A pipeline of donors
  • Donor journeys for new and current donors
  • Relationship fundraising strategies for every major and principal gift donor
  • Major gift officers who are proactive fundraisers – not fund catchers
  • Stories to share with donors that engage their curiosity and investment
  • Donor centric philanthropic investment opportunities
  • Lifetime, loyal donors who become advocates and brokers to other donors
  • Board members who give as leaders
  • Opportunities to engage donors – one to many; one to some and one to one on and off line as appropriate

This would apply to all individual giving – online, direct mail, mid-level, major gifts and bequests. This creates successful fundraising and strategically focused efforts that lessens failure, increases donor engagement and investment through proactive fundraising.


Entry filed under: Fundraising, Nonprofit fundraising. Tags: , , , , .

Since January 20 2017 Pearl Harbor – 1941 to 2018

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