Monday, August 19, 2013

Successful Nonprofit Fundraising

On a Personal Note

To all the people that requested Climbing the Ladder to Nonprofit Success-Thanks! To the "marketing guru" that emailed me to tell me I was missing "an awesome monetizing opportunity" - I'm not interested.

I'm not exactly stupid when it comes to marketing, internet or otherwise. I know about landing pages, and "free" offers that require me to enter my email just to look at something to see if it I want it. I couldn't even begin to count all the content pieces I've written for that type of campaign. Those marketing/sales techniques do have a place in many industries. If just getting subscribers to view your blog is how you make money, or you have a product that many people use, but lots of competition in the same product line, I get being able to mass email your contact list constantly. I really do understand top-of-mind branding.

That isn't what I intended to do when I wrote Climbing the Ladder to Nonprofit Success. That's why I gave you MY email address. If you are interested in starting a nonprofit the right way, or struggling with one that didn't start with a good business model, I figure you'll contact me. If not, bombarding you with a sales pitch every week isn't going to make you a client. That's when I become known in a negative way. "OMG!  Another email from that pest again!" is not how I want you to remember me.

What does all this have to do with YOUR nonprofit funding plan?
Don't be a robo-fundraiser

There are certain organizations that seem to live on seemingly never-ending cycles of email or direct mail appeals, especially around the holidays. We all get them. Every few days there is an email or a fundraising letter in the mail. Pretty soon, the intended recipient simply drops them in file 13 or its electronic equivalent on the way to opening the rest of the mail. Even at nonprofit presort rates, that is expensive. The marketing firm that produces the appeal materials doesn't work for free. And we wonder why their fundraising costs are 50%-plus of their budget?
Robo-mailing typifies the way many nonprofits approach fundraising. Nag, nag, nagging for money or shot-gunning your grant applications aren't always viable plans. It can be an ineffective, time-consuming and expensive way to turn off your donors. Purchasing one-size-fits-all mailing lists costs money.

One of my services is researching probable matches between funding sources and a specific nonprofit. Some people email me with a request to "send out up to 100 applications for grant funds". It ain't gonna happen. If I can find 12 good matches, that is a rarity. A half-dozen or so really good prospects per grant cycle is more like it.

Why less really is more

Are there 100 foundations, corporations or government grants that generally support your type of cause?  Maybe…but they aren't all a match. Some are not geographically matched, some are already locked in to supporting specific nonprofits, some require a depth of organizational development that your nonprofit simply can't provide at the time, and some actually don't support your specific mission at all. Just because they say they support youth doesn't make them candidates for a pitch for advanced dress designing classes for girls 8-13. Researching grants takes time and in-depth analysis. Why not spend your money to develop a really targeted campaign?

Spend Wisely

That's why I offer fund raising planning services. That can be a part of a larger strategic plan, or a stand-alone service, but the idea is to focus your time (and money) on developing customized strategies that actually have a chance of succeeding.

Get a focus. Develop a real plan. Know when you will need money and think ahead, not a week or a month, but a year or even five years ahead. For that you'll need a budget, a easily explainable program and verified positive outcomes. Develop these now, not when we're writing the grant, because making it up as you go along is not a strategy. And if you need help, give me a shout. Helping you to succeed is what I do. Just drop me a line at

No comments:

Post a Comment