fundraising insanity

“If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

I love that saying.

In the world of fundraising it means that if you keep doing things the same old way, you’ll keep getting the same old results.

I’m stunned by how many people are surprised when things don’t turn out differently.

When you send the same tired appeal letter year after year, you aren’t going to raise more money. If you hold the same mediocre event year after year, don’t expect an increase in response.

I was coaching a gala committee made up of Board members and volunteers recently.  They have a wonderful annual event and they’re very disappointed in the results they are getting.  They put over 400 people in the room and are raising just over $20,000.

Not good, says I.

So I asked them in detail about the event.  From what I gathered, they are telling their story, sharing client testimonials, and engaging people in their vision, but when it comes time to make the Ask, they are dropping the ball.

They are leaving it up to their guests to figure out if they should give and how much to give.  In other words, they are being a bit wishy-washy about asking people for money.

There’s a lesson here for everyone:  you MUST ask for a gift.

Don’t assume that people know how much you need or how much it costs to run your programs. Be bold and ask for a specific amount for a specific purpose.

For this particular group, I told them they need to let people know how much it costs them to provide service to 1 client for 1 year, and ask donors to sponsor a client.  And, I told them to include indirect costs when they calculated the costs per client per year.  (There was a bit of silence at this point.  Then they realized they don’t know what it costs them per client, which I told them was their first piece of homework.)

After many of the ideas I shared, committee members said “We know that.”

I tried to explain to them that knowing a thing and doing a thing are different.  It’s one thing to know you need to exercise every day, but it’s a whole different ball game to actually do it.  Your body will definitely reflect the difference in whether or not you take action on the things you know about exercise!

If the things you “know” aren’t working, then it’s time to do some self-reflection.  Are you implementing what you know?  If not, there’s the first place to make some changes.

If you’re someone who says “We tried that and it didn’t work” then it’s time to find some new ways of doing things.

Either way, you’ve got to get out of your rut and start thinking differently. New ways of thinking usually results in new action and new results.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. 

Don’t let fundraising drive you insane.  Change up what’s not working to what we know works and I guarantee you’ll see better results.