Six Tips to Improve Your Fundraising in 2018
Hopefully by now you already have a fundraising plan and it has already been budgeted for and approved by your Board or other governance or management person within your organization. If you’re a small community organisation, look for our blogpost on fundraising for your school project or sports club.
If you haven’t got a fundraising plan, I’ve put together six tips to get you going, but also to make sure you’re on track to improving your fundraising and making 2018 your most successful year yet.
1) Love your donors
Although this is hint number one, all our hints and tips are important. Your donors should be the centre of all your communications. Be happy to make the thank you call (whatever the official process is, there is nothing to stop you calling up spontaneously). See your donors as real people, not just names on the database. Randomly call someone just to say hello. Write about their contributions and get to know them. Follow them on social media and tell them about your successes and your challenges. Also remember that you also have a duty of care to your beneficiaries, those that receive your service. Every person deserves respect, and those you help today may turn out to be those who support you in future. And they are counting on you to do the best fundraising for them.
2) Confirm your personal fundraising philosophy and go back to basics
First and foremost remind yourself that you are helping people to experience the joy of giving. Remember how good you felt when you made your last personal donation, and when you received the “thank you” letter or phone call. If you haven’t made a donation recently, give it a try to remind yourself how good it feels. Adopt a philanthropic culture in your organisation and in your own life. Be generous yourself. Review all your communications to ensure they are donor focused. Mentor a new fundraiser, or a new organisation. Volunteer for a board of governance. Share your experiences with others. Be open about your successes and failures so others can learn.
3) Aim for the Sky
Even if it’s not part of your yearly evaluation, set yourself some clear and measureable objectives for work and yourself. Be bold and daring! Be absolutely clear on what you need to achieve to make a difference for your organisation. Remind yourself regularly that you are making a massive contribution to the improvement of someone’s life. Gather some of the uplifting stories and repeat them regularly to yourself, and to those around you. At least one of your objectives should be about learning something new (in fundraising and in your life).
4)Be the best you can be at all times
Celebrate your successes and don’t forget to take time to smell the roses. Your own professional development is vital to making sure you are the best you could possibly be for your organisation. Professional Development is an essential, not a luxury, and if your organisation doesn’t support you, then look for another job. Whether you care most about your cause, or you care about your own career, then keep searching for improvements and new knowledge.
5) Focus on what you do best, and for the rest, bring in the experts
You simply cannot be expected to know everything about all aspects of fundraising so don’t be shy about calling for help. In most cases a consultant or an expert will provide you with some information before they start charging you, so don’t hesitate to ask how their processes work. Before you tackle a specialised project yourself, ask yourself what are the risks and the consequences of failure. Is it worthwhile spending time to learn how to do something new or is it more efficient to buy in the expertise? Consider getting a mentor. Us fundraisers tend to stick together. We know how hard it is starting out and how important it is to have the right support around you to make sure you’re a success. Start networking, ask fundraisers you know for advice, start your own network. I know a group of new fundraisers who started to get together once a month to talk about their experiences. They were all at the same level and found this type of peer mentoring helping in navigating the world of fundraising.
6) Review your role
Are you the organisation's fundraiser, or are you the fundraising facilitator? Perhaps the real fundraisers are the volunteers who share their passion with their networks, the board members who articulate the cause and set the strategy and your constituents who are thankful. You cannot save the world on your own, but you can certainly create the right environment for fundraising and promote a culture of philanthropy in your organisation.
Lastly – look forward and be confident that 2018 is going to be the best year you have ever had. This is the year for your fundraising success!
Heather Newell is a long term member of FINZ, a Fellow, CFRE qualified and has celebrated her 25rd year in fundraising. She is constantly striving to have the best year ever!