publication date: Dec 30, 2011
author/source: Jose Van Herpt
I'm a big fan of Jamie Oliver, amazing cook, food advocate
and revolutionary, and yes, inventor of The
cookbooks and TV program. The idea behind The Naked Chef
was to strip food down to its bare essentials - to
prove that you don't need to dress up ingredients or buy a load of fancy
gadgets to make something really tasty.
I love this logic! I think it applies beautifully to
fundraising, so it's the basis for this month's tip.
Focus on the essentials
and get back to basics
Every day I meet fundraising
professionals who ...
too busy to talk to donors;
to grow their revenue but have no idea what their key performance indicators
to ask for major gifts but don't have a written or agreed upon case for support;
the information/time/budget to report to donors on how donations are used;
investing to bring in new donors when they aren't properly stewarding the ones
fundraising without clear goals and objectives;
know the ROI for their fundraising activities.
I believe we all find ourselves in times and places where
we've lost sight of our focus or priorities, both in terms of our work and our
careers. As we sit on the cusp of a brand new year, it's an ideal time to take
stock, to have a long hard look at what you're doing and why. And perhaps it's
time to make some changes ... make some promises to yourself and to your donors.
Here's a list of basic things we all can (and should) do.
Talk with your donors
every day - make the time consistently to get on the phone, write a note, visit
someone, build relationships and solidify your donor family.
Ask for money
- are you asking everywhere you can be
and are your asks solid and inspired?
Say thank you.
Be passionate and show it
to your colleagues, your
staff, your donors and everyone in your constituency circle.
make people laugh, cry and love your cause - tell stories in your fundraising
appeals, newsletters, on your website and at events.
your donors, your employer and your team - analyze, report, steward.
know your key performance indicators or benchmarks and use that information to
inform your choices and plans going forward.
Have a plan
budget and clear goals and objectives.
fundraising programs and activities to identify ROI in the short and long term.
or anything that takes you away from your donors and goals (this is a tough one
for a lot of people - I suggest saying it out loud to practice).
Have a case for
that clearly and passionately articulates your cause (make sure
it's written down and agreed upon).
Have a system
is documented for everything from gift processing to strategic planning.
smile, be positive and proactive.
minded and ready to learn.
I know, easier said than done! We all intend
to call that donor, develop that plan, do that analysis, write those thank-you
notes. But try this: pick one or two
things you think will improve your fundraising program and results, make some
room in your day for them and work at creating the habit of doing whatever it
is you've chosen. Create some awareness and sharing opportunities around the
tasks you've chosen. Tell someone what you're doing or what you've done and
Over lunch with client Tracy Paterson recently, we talked
about the naked fundraiser idea (thanks Tracy!) and how hard it can be to stick
to your guns about some of these very fundamental things. Tracy told me a story
about a fundraiser she knew who insisted that he and his staff spend their days
talking with donors, which they in fact did. He refused to attend meetings and
when he absolutely had to, he insisted everyone stand to ensure nobody got
comfortable enough to waste time that could be better spent talking with
donors. He had to say "no" frequently to people who wanted his time. And while
these may not have been hard choices to make, I suspect they were hard to
Choose to be a naked
Every once in a while it's a good idea to stand back, strip
down and really look at what we're doing. Then make some choices (and I don't
mean streaking choices) and promises, and establish how you intend to deliver
on those choices and promises.
Van Herpt is Principal and Chief Counsel at Good
Works, a consulting firm that works with Canadian charities to engage
donors at a truly human level and build donor loyalty and commitment. Jose
welcomes your ideas, comments and criticisms about this tip. Please email her with your reactions and