Fundraising

Posted on in Fundraising

I was at a meeting yesterday with some board members who’d committed to getting started in fundraising. They wanted to hire Cause Effective to help them develop a fundraising plan and coach them through their first steps. And then the big “R” question came up – will you do research for us?

Well sure we’ll do research – but that’s so far down the line at this point, that the question itself is a red herring…an avoidance mechanism. It’s like in baseball when someone breaks out to steal second in order to hide the fact that someone’s about to try to steal home. (You can tell it’s far along in the Little League season). It takes your eyes off the prize.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Put a group of fundraisers in a room and there’s likely to be some griping about how difficult it is to raise money, especially in these times. The political climate is diverting from our mission. Giving Tuesday has become diluted. Everybody has their gala at the same time every year. Yadda yadda yadda.

Inevitably, the question is raised: is the return on investment even worth it?

A recent client of mine had a board member tell her, on the heels of their most successful event ever, that she “didn’t think the board should have to do this every year.” Yikes!

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Posted on in Fundraising

…before you give up on a prospect?

That was the question a board member posed in a fundraising training we conducted last week.

We were talking about the importance of cultivation, and how you have to read the signals of what a potential donor is interested in and try to respond in kind. In other words, that it’s not about putting what you think is your best foot forward – but about divining the prospect’s intentions and passions and pursing a dialogue about those.

We were discussing the merits of touring a community garden versus visiting the senior crafts hour (which one better conveyed a sense of community need? which was pleasant – good news – but not so lite that prospects would forget the social service underneath the activity’s design?) when a voice popped up from the back of the room. “How long does it take?” asked a middle-aged man sitting near the refreshment table.

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We were facilitating an anniversary planning meeting the other day for an organization that was trying to think about what its 25th anniversary meant to them.

One of their oldest board members wistfully recollected the early days when the board was intimately concerned with producing the organization’s programming. “We were really involved then – now it’s all money and budgets and planning. But back then, we met everyone who came in here…we had our fingers on the pulse.”

What do you do when you have a venerable and valued board member who’s attached to the old days? To the old ways of being a hands-on board member? Someone who’s historically important and a moral bellweather – and who still brings in resources even though they’re getting more and more disenchanted with the new meaning of being a board member?

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Posted on in Fundraising

Development Directors are facilitators. Their work is done through the actions of others: executive directors, board members, funders, donors, volunteers, program staff.

For the most part, the visible components of the development process – sending a letter, having lunch with a prospective donor, approving a grant proposal, writing a check – are prepared for by the development director, but undertaken by those in more external-facing roles.

A development director’s job can be compared to the invisible hand moving the pieces around a chess board. 

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