Fundraising

Posted on in Fundraising

"He Said-She Said."

I've read board minutes where my brain goes into whiplash trying to keep up with the back and forth.

"Decisions Were Made."

I've read other sets of minutes where I'm left scratching my head, trying to figure out how a meeting in which two decisions were made took two hours.

The answer is somewhere in between.

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Posted on in Fundraising

I was at a one-topic board meeting last night.

And, natch, the topic was fundraising.

The board deftly dispatched some legal issues, financial trend-spotting, and new program development in a half-hour – and took 5 minutes to recognize and thank the executive director for an extraordinary leadership effort in opening a new afterschool center.

Then, with 1.5 hours to go, the board settled in to the question: “What are we going to do to raise money in the next 4 months?”

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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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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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…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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