Last week, Lois Lindauer summed up some fundraising advice as: Keep Your Friends Close and Your Donors Closer:
At a recent gathering of executive-level fundraisers in Boston, the following suggestions and thoughts for working during these uncertain times were elicited:
- Stay close to donors. Listen carefully to their interests. Place an emphasis on stewardship and reassure donors of the strength of your institution/organization.
- Make your case clear and compelling to new donors. Welcome these generous folks to your organization.
- Demonstrate the value of planned gifts and bequests. Let your constituency know how their legacy can impact your organization.
- Cross-train staff. Now is a good time for all staffers, especially those in alumni relations, to expand their skills and build a larger major gifts effort for your institution.
- Be open to lengthening pledge periods. Such flexibility enhances relationships with donors.
- Add volunteers to your team. Already great ambassadors, many are willing to ask for gifts.
- Appearance counts. In harsh economic times it is important not to appear extravagant. It’s time to re-tool the glamorous gala and re-think a four-color brochure.
- Don’t stop now. Successful fundraising programs are built over time, not stopped and re-started based on the economy.
I love that there’s nothing “new” about this list. This list drives us back to the basics.
If you go to a practice of an NBA team like the Boston Celtics, guess what you’ll see these world champions doing? Lay-ups. Free throws. Passing drills.
The very same basketball basics they’ve been doing these since elementary school!
It’s the same with raising money: if you’re not practicing the lay-ups, you’ll probably never make any amazing plays.
Readers of this blog and email list know I’ve been talking about this for a long time:
- ideas on creating recession-proof fundraising back in April,
- techniques for writing more compelling fundraising letters to donors back in August, and
- why there’s nothing compassionate about not asking for money last month.
In reality, even Creating Donor Evangelists is about the basics: multiple ways to listen to donors.
In economic times like these, it’s tempting to get bored with the basics and look for a quicker fix. You could get whiplash from every “expert” offering a “sure-fire” way to solve all your money problems.
Unless you’re already doing any of these, I’d suggest you not follow after search engines that will pay you if your donors click through to buy stuff, or the latest chocolate candy bar fundraiser, or flashy new fundraising scratch cards. These can have moderate success. But they can seriously dilute your brand.
Rather, just stick to boring lay-ups. That’s why I’ve even called my newsletter Extreme Fundraising: the basics are extreme.
Keep doing the basics and you’ll weather this storm. You may even become world champions, just like the Celtics! 🙂