Fund development is a transient field. It seems like everyday someone new is telling me that they are changing jobs or about a co-worker who is leaving the organization. I’m not sure if it’s the spring weather or that people are just seeking something new, but change is definitely in the air. Change is a beautiful thing, and in the midst of change, it’s a great time to review your work habits, kick any stale ones aside, and begin with fresh tactics. But, you don’t need a new fundraising job to make change in your work habits. The 5 tactics below are great to start anytime — whether it’s your first day, the middle of your second year, or your 10th anniversary on the job. I hope they help!
1. Start your day with 3 thank you calls
I was the most successful in my fundraising efforts when I set time aside every day to thank donors. It was my favorite time of day, and from 9 – 9:15 a.m., I chose three recent donors and called to thank them. As fundraisers, our days can become hectic, and we are often pulled in directions that we didn’t plan. If your day goes awry and you don’t get what you planned to get accomplished, you can always feel good because you know that you called three donors that morning.
2. Meet with the person in charge of organizational messaging
As you are out meeting with donors are representing the organization, it is smart to have your elevator speech and key messages in your toolbox. This person can help you with your messaging about the organization, programming efforts, strategic initiatives, and any other relevant communication. This person can also help anticipate any tough questions and help prepare your responses. (Why did your organization change its policy around serving certain populations? Why did the Executive Director leave last month? The cost to raise a dollar increased by 30% in 2010. Why? etc.)
3. Visit your pledgers
Oftentimes, the pledge payments of a donor outlast the fundraiser’s tenure with the organization. Because of this, sometimes pledgers can be forgotten, especially if they are making their payments annually. Query your database for anyone who is making pledge payments and call to schedule a visit. Not only will this help to ensure future payments, it will ensure that the donor is getting updates on what s/he is supporting.
4. Get to know your volunteers
You’ll spend plenty of time with your board members on high-level strategy work, but this tactic is about getting to know the individuals who volunteer with hands-on program work. These are your museum docents, volunteer patient/hospital navigators, or daily server at the soup kitchen. Not only are they great prospects and personally assist in mission delivery, they will give you a unique perspective on the culture, services, and needs.
5. Review your retention/acquisition rate
Whether you are in charge of one revenue stream or the entire revenue budget, your retention rate will give you a temperature check on current and past efforts. This year-over-year analysis will show you how many donors are renewing their gifts, how many are lapsing, and how many are new. Those data points will help you build your strategy for the next 60 days.
We’d love to hear your ideas! Please make a comment in the space below and share your ideas for innovative work habits.