One of the biggest challenges that we all face at some point during our careers is feeling like we don’t know which questions to ask or where we should go for answers. When you are responsible for raising significant funds for your organization and you feel alone, it is not only daunting, but if you don’t ask for help, it can potentially prevent you and your organization from reaching major financial goals.
Many times board members or nonprofit professionals look to articles or reports about fundraising challenges for solutions or direction, but end up feeling hopeless because the obstacles simply seem insurmountable. You know these types of articles; they tend to reveal a host of statistics that point to a lack of infrastructure within a nonprofit, the reasons the development director or board is struggling to succeed, and the cycles that perpetuate your nonprofit’s inability to raise adequate resources. Oftentimes they provide a myriad of challenges, but don’t give action-oriented solutions that are quick and easy to apply right away.
This is not one of those articles. Below are a few tips for those feeling lost, alone, or frustrated with their current development program. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Set clear goals. You can’t move forward if you don’t know where you are. Don’t underestimate the importance of metrics and deliverables (i.e. gifts secured, average gift size, frequency of contact with donors, etc.). If your current program doesn’t have ways to prioritize goals, it is almost impossible to know how to measure success.
- Make a work plan. Time is a precious resource. Once you know where you are and how much time you have, you can allocate your time and energy where it will make the biggest impact.
- Build alliances. The art of development is about engaging others and harnessing their support. This especially applies to development professionals who make up their whole department or organizations or those who don’t yet have a designated fundraiser. Remember, you are relying on human capital, as well as financial support, to achieve your mission.
- Maintain relationships. It is never a given that a prior supporter will continue to contribute to your organization. It is just as important to harvest the seeds that have come before you as it is to plant new ones.
Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, focus on actionable solutions, and know that assessing your organization’s current state is the first step towards growth and opportunity. For more information about how to engage in conversations about fundraising assessment or how to begin a strategic development work plan for your organization, contact us. No challenge is too big and our team’s main mission is to help organizations stop stressing so they can start achieving their desired goals.