Fundraising is a duty that comes with with a considerable workload and it is sometimes difficult to gauge whether one is heading in the right direction while operating in a pressure cooker.
Ken Burnett, in his book, “The Zen of Fundraising,” provides 10 tips to ensure that one’s thinking is sound when approaching fundraising.
Give your donors what they want. Referred to as donor-focused or relationship fundraising, donors need to receive what they want when they want and how they want it in order for a strong, long-term relationship to be forged. Usually, this coincides or can coincide with what the organization wants.
Understand your donors. While there are many ways to research donors, the best means are free. Regularly meet and speak with your donors.
Keep in mind that donors may change their mind at any time. Voluntary donations are, after all, voluntary and it should be assumed in organizational stewardship that donors could have a change of heart at any given time.
Plagiarize as opposed to reinventing the wheel. Almost invariably someone else has been in your position before and there is an opportunity to learn from them. Fundraising is unique in that plagiarism isn’t frowned on, but rather encouraged.
When plagiarizing, don’t simply plug in what worked for someone else into your organization. Adapting an idea to your market, donors, situation and circumstance is essential for having it work for you.
Never believe “that won’t work here,” because it likely will. While some considerations may be needed to account for different cultures, if a fundraising idea works in one country or market, it is likely able to work anywhere.
Make the 90-degree shift. Put yourself in your donor’s shoes and see your organization, communication and even your role as a fundraiser from his or her point of view.
Try staying 15 minutes ahead of your competitors. This means finding little ways in which to gain an edge. Instead of pursuing an elusive big idea, keep your eyes open to all the smaller, easy-to-reach means of improvement that can add up to pay big dividends.
Keep well informed and never assume that you know it all. Take a notebook with you to seminar, keep an open mind and jot down ideas while others may be sitting with their arms folded.
Piggy-backing on making sure you never believe you know it all, be sure to learn from history and past experiences. Change your approach based off of the lessons of the past.