Facebook used this picture to remind me that twelve years ago, I was with Jerry Panas at a fundraising training at the University of Southern Maine.

Jerry Panas Fundraising Tips close upWhat struck me about the picture is the pad of paper beside Jerry. These few fundraising tips are powerful. And they'll serve you well as you head into the last quarter of this calendar year.

4 Fundraising Tips from Jerry Panas

Here are four tips Jerry Panas shared that will help you make the most out of your nonprofit's fundraising efforts. The bold it his point (as seen in the photo); the commentary is mine.

  1. Top 100

    So often we think "everyone" is a possible donor. But traditional experience is that fundraising often succeeds with a focus on a committed group of donors. These people give generously and will draw in qualified prospects to join them.

    This is not to say that the communications and asks should be exclusively made to a small group. And it certainly doesn't mean that a nonprofit should start bending it's mission to center around this group of donors. We have tremendous peer-to-peer opportunities now. And different cultures give in different ways. This is good and as it should be.

    What I find helpful about the "Top 100" is the focus it brings. When "everyone" is a prospect, our message tends to not get through. But when we start communicating to a specific group of people, our message is more clearly heard. And more quickly acted on.

    If you're a busy, overwhelmed nonprofit CEO or fundraiser, taking a look at your nonprofit's top 100 would be a worthwhile exercise. (When I did this as a fundraiser, I was surprised by the people in that group. It was a school and some of our faculty were in that donor group. This helped me communicate with them as I was with the off campus donors.)

  2. Don't Say No

    Your not asking is saying "no" for the donor. You don't have that right. We need to treat our donors with at least enough respect to let them make up their own mind. And we have to realize there is nothing compassionate about not asking. The only way to know if a donor is saying "no" is when the donor says no.

  3. Ask

    Yes!! Asking is where the magic is. A clear ask with a specific dollar amount is incredibly respectful of donors. My guess on why some donors are tired of nonprofits is all the hinting, suggesting, and alluding we do. We can't read the minds of our loved ones. Why do we expect our donors can read our minds? Clearly asking for what we want, without guilt or manipulation, allows them to easily understand what we'd like.

  4. Never a Better Time

    I love the last point on this list too. There really is never a "better time." Too often, our waiting is more about us than about the donor. Or about our cause. If our nonprofit relies on donor support, our not asking puts our staff and mission in jeopardy.

    This doesn't mean we need to become belligerent or annoying. Remember Ned in the movie Groundhog Day? Don't be like Ned.

    Not waiting to ask doesn't mean being rude. You can always ask if now is a good time to ask. If the donor says now isn't a good time, great. Ask them when might be a better time. Or ask them if you could follow up in a week or two. That will make your follow up not be nagging. You'll just be being a person of your word, following up as promised.

Tools Change Faster than People

I love the simplicity of this list. With the unprecedented fundraising opportunities nonprofits have, the options can get dizzying. When you lose focus, it's easy to return to this list and get your fundraising back on track.

What would you add? Or what would you change?

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