Sep 05, 2007

Hello Busy Fundraisers!

You're too busy to raise as much money for your organization as you'd like. Your donors are too busy to read what you send them or get back to you. Heck, I'm probably too busy to write this blog. So what are we all supposed to do?

Answering this question will be at least one of the ongoing themes of this blog. In the few minutes it takes you to read this, I'm hoping you'll pick up concrete tips on how to make your efforts more efficient and productive.

So let's launch right in. One answer - which may sound obvious, but which I see all too many nonprofits overlooking - comes from that Type A, 21st century concept of multitasking. Just like I've got the toaster and kettle making my breakfast while I write this, you can find ways to have your fundraising and marketing efforts do double - or even triple - duty for you. Here are three possibilities, with more to come later:

1. Ask board members to do something concrete at their meetings. For some members, board meetings could as easily be called bored meetings, as they study financial charts and hear dry reports. They'd be only too happy to set aside an extra half hour to stuff envelopes, handwrite some thank you letters to your donors or volunteers, or even do some of the photocopying and filing that's been piling up around your office.

2. Use every human contact as a way to gather names for your mailing list. I've been to benefit concerts where I paid cash and no one asked my name. I've volunteered for organizations that don't send me their literature. And yet their fundraising staff probably tear their hair or spend big bucks trying to expand their direct mail lists. When you encounter people with even a little interest in your organization, get their names!

3. Include more than one fundraising method at special events. If you're doing a walk-a-thon, add a raffle at the starting point, which family and friends can sign up for. This one does triple duty, because you get more names for your mailing list. (Just make sure raffles are legal in your state). At a dinner event, add a silent auction. But notice that I'm not recommending selling mugs or T-shirts - retail sales are risky, because you can easily wind up with more inventory than buyers want.