I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sandy Rees and ask her about her new book Get Fully Funded. [affiliate link]
The Fundraising Coach: Why did you feel compelled to write "Get Fully Funded"?
Sandy Rees: Writing a book like this has been a professional goal of mine for a long time. When I became a coach/consultant, I found myself teaching the same system of fundraising over and over. It just made sense to write it all down and put it in a book so I could make it available to way more nonprofits than I can possibly get to one at a time.
FRC: What are some of the common fundraising mistakes the you see nonprofits making?
SR: One of the most common mistakes I see is nonprofit leaders thinking small. They don’t see their organization as being able to attract lots of donors or “heavy hitters.” They look at other nonprofits with envy and think “we could never raise money like they do.” They see themselves as competing with other nonprofits. It’s all poverty mentality. The truth is that if nonprofits built good relationships with donors and encouraged them to give just a tiny bit more, there would be MORE than enough money. The concept of fully funding your mission isn’t a dream. It’s do-able. I’ve done it and I’ve coached many organizations to do it. In fact, there’s a testimonial on my website from one client that consistently has a cash surplus in the bank.
FRC: You talk about 7 simple steps in your book. Could you share those steps with us?
SR: You bet! The Get Fully Funded system is a step-by-step process for creating long-term financial stability through donor-based fundraising. Simply put, it’s a blueprint to building the fundraising program of your dreams.
I’ve boiled it down to 7 simple steps that you can easy implement.
- Step 1: Make fundraising a priority. You must get infrastructure in place in your office, and put the systems together that will support you when you are fundraising. Otherwise, your fundraising program will collapse as soon as it starts. You also must get your mind focused on what’s possible and let go any beliefs that zap your energy.
- Step 2: Understand why people give. Before you try to raise money, it’s helpful to uncover a donor’s motivations for giving. You must understand all the reasons why someone might make a gift to your organization so that you can appeal to them specifically.
- Step 3: Identify the best donor prospect. You can save a lot of time and resources by focusing your efforts on the right people. When you get clear about your ideal donor and how to find more just like them, attracting donors becomes easy.
- Step 4: Tell your story. When it’s time to talk to donors and prospects, it’s best to have a clear, focused message to share. You need carefully-selected key messages and a compelling, hooky elevator speech. You also need to be able to share a heart-warming story about a person or a family your nonprofit has helped.
- Step 5: Plan how and when will you ask for a gift. This is the nitty-gritty! You need a written, comprehensive fundraising plan for your nonprofit, complete with all the strategies and techniques that will be most effective for the target audiences you are after.
- Step 6: Acknowledge the gift and build relationships. Thanking and stewarding a donor is not only polite, but it builds relationship and trust with the donor. It starts with a great Thank-You letter and ends with a grateful donor who becomes an ambassador for you in the community.
- Step 7: Evaluate success. Measuring your success will help you know which fundraising activities to continue and which ones to dump. Consistent evaluation will help you not only stay on target and focused, but keep you moving forward.
FRC: I like that you use the term "long-term." So many people seem panicked for short-term fundraising results. How do you respond to people like that?
SR: In order to achieve sustainability for next year and the year after and so on, we’ve got to think long-term. Nonprofits have got to stop living “paycheck to paycheck” or “bake sale to carwash” or whatever they’re doing. The principles in my book will help put things in place that make fundraising work every year, like a well-oiled machine. Now, I know that some folks are backed into a corner and really must raise money right away. For them, they have to figure out what they can do that will get them the most results in the shortest amount of time with the greatest long-term impact and the least investment. Then they have to do whatever it takes to make it happen and raise the money they need to get out of their current crisis. They’ve got to give up all the excuses they’ve been using for lackluster fundraising, and just do whatever it takes to raise money. It’s a real shift in attitude.
FRC: What is the one most helpful thing nonprofits can do to position themselves to getting fully funded?
SR: Make fundraising a priority. In fact, it’s the first step in the system and the first chapter in the book. If people don’t make fundraising a priority, they aren’t going to get the results they want. Simple as that. Making fundraising a priority involves time management and priority management, but also attitude management. It involves shifting your perspective and looking at the countless opportunities that are out there for your nonprofit, instead of focusing on the lack.
I believe so strongly in this, that I’ve offered the first chapter in the book as a free download on my website! www.getfullyfunded.com/get-fully-funded-books.