Wherever in the world you are reading this, take heart – your donors are waiting for you!
2019 is upon us and with it comes the annual challenges that we as fundraisers face every year, the challenge to fund more and deliver more for our respective causes.
Fundraising is relentless but – wherever we live and wherever we fundraise and whatever cause we fundraise for – it doesn’t have to be daunting.
Here are 8 principles that will help you manage your fundraising this year. There may be more, there will be others, but just pick those that fit with your way of doing things. Don’t fear the year ahead, enjoy it. Don’t fear your donors, enjoy them.
- Love your donors – they are people, like you and I. I have spent endless hours over the years hearing about the latest hip replacement, the challenge of growing azaleas, and looking at photos of grand-children. I have seen tears and heard reminiscences. None of this could have happened if I had not been invited into their homes. Listening to oft-lonely folk who continue to give to the cause that your are representing is actually mutually rewarding. They appreciate it and it garners ongoing loyalty. #keepyourdonors
- Serve your donors – this may seem a strange suggestion, but until recently, the attitude of some charities has been the opposite, namely squeeze your donors for as much money as you can get from then. That climate of extortion is not acceptable and the UK charity sector has been found out in recent years, for the better. Now we need to go the extra mile and not only love our donors, but serve them, whatever that might look like for you and your charity. Create a strategy that will serve them. #keepitsimple
- Focus on the funder – it’s easy to focus on strategies and targets but ask yourself (and your board, for that matter) who is it that is going to meet them? We need to focus on the funders. They will love you for it. #discoveryourfunders
- It’s about ‘outcomes’ not ‘incomes’ – it’s not about how much money we can squeeze out of a donor or how much we think they have. That requires judgement of their circumstances, which is not what we are about. No, it’s about how best we can portray to them how well we can utilise their support to make a difference. #inspireyourdonors
- Mobilise your best narratives – know the stories of your cause and match it to your donors’ aspirations for change. And pay attention to urgent needs that come our way. Be alert to what might seem to be a passing comment from a front line worker’s letter, and turn it into a story. I once read a prayer letter from a worker who talked about a mother in central Asia who picked up her two children from the local school during the cold winter months and was taking them ‘home’, to the back of an abandoned lorry where they all slept under a blanket. The worker wanted £3,500 for a new heater for the school, so that the children could be warm at least during the day. We had it within 2 weeks. #bealert
- Be patient – one adage that I have lived by is that ‘the money follows the mission.’ There is no point in your opening gambit being the huge total that you need to raise. That is not exciting. It’s the opposite. It’s frightening. What is exciting – or ought to be – is your telling of the story about the difference that the charity is making in people’s lives. That is your mission. If you explain that well, the money will follow. So ask yourself: how is your story-telling? #thinklikeajourno
- Inspire your colleagues – Last November, Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter here in the UK, said ‘…if you are in a charity, you are a fundraiser.’ She is so right. But we can’t expect our colleagues, the Board member, the book-keeper or the Head of HR to simply to become a fundraiser without our helping them. We need to excite them and give them the tools. And that means equipping them with stories to tell, latest news snippets, and encouragements for them to use in their everyday encounters. Their networks are our potential donors. #thinklateral
- Don’t give up – on that wet Thursday morning, when you receive that rejection from a Trust/Foundation that you were hoping would bail you out of an internal need in order to meet a target, the disappointment is tangible. But you can only do your best and rejection of a bid is not your responsibility. Submitting the bid is. We go again. #persistencepays
And finally, if you are a praying person, or work for a Christian charity, call on The Provider (I call Him ‘the Bank that likes to say ‘yes’). He’s never let me down, and He won’t let you down either #inviteGodtohelp