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A Fundraising Perfect Storm

I received a lot of responses from last week’s letter. I love hearing from you: please keep the conversation going. This week, let’s talk fundraising.

The economy is strong. Unemployment is low. Many people are doing better financially than they have been in a long time. That’s great news for businesses and nonprofits. Especially nonprofits.

But this increase in people’s cashflow is not significantly increasing happiness. People are stressed. We hear terrible news happening both inside and outside of our spheres of influence. The tension can be exhausting.

That’s where nonprofits shine. When people see a play that helps them laugh, or visit a museum that makes them think, or experience the benefits of a cause that’s improving the lives of others, many people experience happiness. That’s more great news.

As I look around the sector, though, I’m not seeing nonprofits capitalizing on these factors.

For example, a client I recently started coaching on fundraising best practices shared this at our initial conversation:

“We’re in the middle of our fundraising campaign. I’m asking people to at least match what they gave last year, and if they can, to give a little more.”

I told him that he was right to increase the ask, but that he was leaving money on the table. Adjusting this mindset is an excellent coaching goal because results are measurable and achievable. And also because the current conditions are a perfect storm for nonprofits to be pulling in record amounts of contributions.

How is your fundraising going for you? Are you bringing in the cash by wheelbarrow or coffee cup? Here are five strategies you can implement, right now, to boost your fundraising results in the current environment.

#1: Create a “good times” mindset. When times are tough, I see fundraisers turning over every rock to find cash out of necessity. Times are good. It’s not necessity; it’s opportunity. Change your mindset to increase outreach in the good times, not just the bad.

#2: Assume the best. People you know may not be benefiting financially from the strong economy. But many people are. Assume that your prospects are doing exceedingly well and have a substantial increased capacity to give. If they don’t, they’ll tell you.

#3: Ask exponentially, not incrementally. Don’t base your ask on prior giving amounts, and don’t think small. You’ve built a great relationship with your donor. Big asks land big gifts. You’re not selling unwanted encyclopedias: you’re giving people an incredible opportunity to do good in this world through your organization. We need it, and people want to do it.

#4: Apply normative pressure. Share the message that fundraising is going especially well this year, because many people are able to give more due to the good economy. Are gift renewals up? Got more money in now vs. this time last year? Find some facts and share them, and explain what specific new opportunities this increased giving opens up.

#5: Accentuate the intrinsic benefits to the donor. So many fundraisers I know focus on just the extrinsic benefits of donating, such as gifts you get at certain donation levels, discounted tickets, etc. But people are strongly motivated to act based on intrinsic benefits. Emotional benefits. What positive things will they feel by supporting your organization?

Don’t shoot yourself in the bank account. Adjust your mindset for these good times.

This week’s mission:

For you fundraisers making those calls and having those lunches this week, implement one aspect of the above in your conversation. Just a one-liner if you like. Practice in advance so that the language flows naturally, and measure the responses you receive. Tell me how it goes for you. I’m considering doing a special-topic seminar on this; if you’d like me to go more in-depth on strategies for fundraising during economic growth, email me and let me know.




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I'm Ron Evans. I dramatically improve individual and organizational performance. If you found today's topic intriguing and want to apply it to your situation, I'll brainstorm with you. The few who follow through and take me up on my offer will benefit greatly. Strike while the iron is hot! 


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