Set these goals for the new year and reach new levels of success
As fundraisers conclude their fiscal year with annual reports, balance sheets, and those last few asks during an annual campaign, most of them immediately start thinking about how to continue cultivating donors in the New Year.
A fundraiser’s job is never done until a critical social need is met. The personal nature of raising money for a cause often adds a level of emotional pressure to jobs that would otherwise be “strictly business.”
Setting resolutions for the New Year that take the personal needs and professional goals of fundraisers into account can be a valuable exercise in setting boundaries that will make for a more manageable year.
When the clock strikes midnight, strive to be committed to these resolutions for fundraisers:
- Make “Stepping Up” Donors a Priority
- Embrace Fundraising and Donor Data
- Focus on Balance
Fundraisers Should Focus on Stepping Up Donors
Fundraisers have to deal with certain facts about funding their programs: costs usually increase, resources often decrease, and need often grows. A static revenue stream is simply not feasible for the average fundraiser.
Many fundraisers, therefore, choose to get more donors onboard to strike a net-positive in the face of donor attrition. This often comes at the expense of spending quality time maintaining and cultivating those donors you have already engaged. Leading fundraisers, like Gail Perry, consider current supporters some of the most important stakeholders. Perry notes that, because this segment of donors has already demonstrated buy-in to your mission, they may be your best candidates for increased support.
To engage this segment of donors, create a separate marketing campaign that focuses on existing donors that have been consistent in their giving. Focus the messaging on increasing gifts and offering corresponding engagement opportunities.
For example, offer donors who step up to a “leadership level” of giving membership in an affinity group, or the chance to get an on-site tour of one of the programs they support. These donors will appreciate getting to see why the need still exists, how their contributions have been used, and what positive outcomes would result from a bigger gift. If you’re seeking some inspiration, hop over to our strategies for cultivating donor relationships as you plan your moves for next year.
Embrace Fundraising and Donor Data
Data-based fundraising is one of our favorite things to talk about, especially when it comes to evaluating and improving fundraising.
“Data-driven” isn’t just a nonprofit marketing buzzword; it’s a proven way to be more strategic and efficient with your resources. When you look at your fundraising results, donor demographics, and giving trends, you can eliminate some of the guess work of crafting a compelling ask and avoid tactics that haven’t worked in the past.
If you’re looking for some guidance on how to use data and make meaningful determinations about your fundraising performance, you can read more about data-driven fundraising evaluation on our blog. This post offers a framework for structuring and applying it to practicable changes in your fundraising strategy.
The best way to embrace data in all areas of your money raising strategy is to simply ask yourself, “How can I measure the outcome here?” For fundraisers, this answer is often a dollar amount—whether it be a new gift, and increase in giving from an existing donor, or a year-over-year change in programmatic support.
Make it your resolution to ask this question in every fundraising activity, and you’ll start to transform your thinking.
Strike a Balance
Burnout is one of the most common causes of turnover in a nonprofit organization. Nonprofit fundraisers are required to bring stamina, heart, and creativity on a daily basis to meet critical goals. Falling short of these goals has major consequences for populations in need of these resources.
Fundraisers take their work home with them. It’s hard to leave work at work, because there’s always more to be done when there’s a fundraising goal to be met. But your fundraising will suffer when you don’t take the time to personally recharge.
One career fundraiser at a nonprofit hospice gave great advice for those new to the resource development game:
“I found, eventually, that if I spent all my time fundraising and no time doing anything else, I only had fundraising to talk about with my donors”, she said.
Making time to enjoy her hobbies and attend local events gave her a great deal more context for having meaningful conversations with donors that allowed her to build human relationships. This change in the way she balanced work and personal life has given her the endurance to have a successful career in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for two decades.
Resolutions are evolving, dynamic goals. Still, fundraisers owe it to themselves and those they serve to make changes that will increase efficiency and decrease stress in the coming year. Try some of them for yourself, and see the positive benefits.