By Mary Moss, Founding Partner.
“I just want to stay the same”…said no nonprofit leader ever.
I have never worked with a nonprofit leader who said, “We just want to stay the same. Can you help us do that?” Every nonprofit leader I have known in this business is here because of their passion to want to be better, improve, serve, and engage more people. It’s who we are. The issue is HOW to improve. That is when moss+ross gets the call to help.
Progress is measured on a three-legged stool that has withstood the test of time: annual, capital, and planned development programs. All three should be front and center and tracked annually. The most important program is the unrestricted annual fund. Leaders need money to operate, period. Capital campaigns catapult an organization’s mission and programs to new levels through new buildings, renovations, or endowments. Planned gifts affirm the importance of planning for tomorrow through wills, bequests, and other vehicles. Mid-summer is a perfect time to look at four tips for building your three-legged stool:
Tip 1: Examine the strategic plan. If you do not have one, create one. Fundraising goals are in service to the strategic plan, and without one, the fundraising goals can be rote and rudderless.
Tip 2: Create a written fundraising plan, now. I just got off the phone with a potential client who said, “I am concerned that we have no plan in place.” Our firm will help them by showing them what a plan looks like and helping them create it. A good plan is a document, not a spreadsheet, and includes goals, action steps, who will do the work, and metrics.
- First, gather data. How did you end the fiscal year in annual, capital, and planned giving? Did you increase the donors, dollars, prospects? Are your metrics for communications outreach, such as email and social media, improving? By how much, and what had the biggest return?
- Second, plan an off-site meeting of the fundraising team to examine the data and project 2024 goals. Make it social and fun as well as productive. Involve key staff and volunteer leaders in setting the goals.
- Third, create a tracking document to record where you are toward achieving your goals.
Tip 3: Keep diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging goals interwoven into all aspects of fundraising and communications. No fundraising plan can afford to leave out these important aspects. Engage diverse audiences and invite a larger audience to share in the mission.
Tip 4: Track and repeat. Use your tracking document every week for staff, and every month for board members and key volunteers, to ensure your team feels invested in the goals throughout the year. Communicate interim successes from the podium, on social media, and in publications.
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