5 critical big picture issues

It’s easy to say, Stop, take a step back, look at the big picture.

But, for many nonprofit managers fundraising and managing the organization are as big as the picture can get. Sometimes it helps to review the sector as a hole.

During the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ international conference, Gretchen Gordon of KUAC TV & FM in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Chris Kasavich of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reviewed the five critical issues influencing all aspects of nonprofit programs. They are:

  • Mindset: Pipeline development. Retention is better than acquisition. Asking well is better than asking more. Think donor lifetime value.
  • Framework: Integrated annual giving. The old way: sending a letter or two a year and waiting for cash. Today: Weaving together direct mail, online giving, events, personal asks and stewardship into a comprehensive program that plays to the strengths of each medium.
  • Database. A well-tended database is more critical to annual giving than any other development effort. It does much more than just list donors.
  • Process: Hypothesis testing. Without testing it is impossible to know if: more solicitation really does drive down results; direct mail really is dead (for a particular organization); premiums work; and, emails are too long.
  • Calendar. As Golda Meir said, “I must govern by the clock, not be governed by it.” Have timeframes in mind know how to make them work for the organization.