publication date: May 21, 2011
author/source: Jonathon Grapsas
Although it probably feels like you just had this year's
et signed off, it's never too early to be thinking
about the next cycle. Gulp. So what should be top of mind when sorting through
a myriad of spreadsheets and detailed discussions about the future?Think three years, not one
While it's easy to look at immediate decisions, we know the
real impact often comes a lot later than the toil involved. Regular, monthly
giving is a great case in point.
So to overcome potential resistance to your plans, ensure
all budgets include the longer term payoff, through years two and three as a
minimum, or even longer where necessary.
That may mean overlaying your income expectations with
expected lifetime value, not just income in the coming year.
Start from scratch: the zero based approach
While I'd agree with the adage about not fixing what ain't
broken, stagnant programs or those looking for serious growth could do worse
than start from scratch.
Consider this. You're an organization that generates $1
million a year in income. You've been tasked with growing that fivefold in
Doable? Most certainly. Doable within the current program
framework? Likely not.
Ambitious growth requires solid investment, informed risk-taking
and organizational commitment. If you're planning to transform your program,
looking at what you've done for the last ten years and tweaking it isn't going
to help you make that leap.
"What do I need to do to generate $5 million a year?" is the
question you need to be able to answer - not "How can I turn $1 million into $5
Balance your portfolio
Diversification and balance are key. A balanced program
means investing in areas that will deliver short term income (cash appeals,
emergency appeals, events), medium term income (monthly giving, major donors,
donor care), and long term income (bequest marketing, donor care). Relying on any
one revenue stream for more than 80% of your income can put you in a precarious
place should the landscape move.
If you take a look at those charities around you that have
gone through massive growth, there's no doubt most of that growth will be
driven by one channel. In Canada over the past five to seven years, that's been
F2F (street canvassing) recruiting of regular, monthly donors.
But if you look more closely, the charities that have
harnessed this best are employing other channels as well, including telephone, direct
mail, direct response television and, more recently, digital.
When trying to decide how to allocate funds, Google's
70/20/10 rule for investing in innovation is a great way to achieve both
balance and diversification. This would see
Invest in donor care
10% of funds dedicated to exploring new
initiatives, with the expectation that almost all will fail but occasionally
one or two will show potential and end up reshaping the future;
20% of funds given to initiatives that showed
promise from the previous year's new trials, to see if they are sustainable as
an income stream; and
70% of funds dedicated to roll-out and optimization
of what is proven to deliver the bulk of income.
Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. An acquisition
budget with no real commitment to donor development and supporter care is
flawed. It's hard enough to hang onto donors and even harder to look after them
without any investment.
That means donor care and stewardship pieces, training for
supporter services staff, mystery shopping other charities, and generally
keeping the topic on your agenda. Acquisition needs to work hand in hand with
great supporter development to help your organization change the world, now and
in the future.
Jonathon Grapsas is
fundraising development director for the Pareto
Group, a global fundraising agency focused on data-driven direct response.
Jonathon was previously the regional director for Pareto Fundraising in North
America. He currently works with
charities all around the globe, including the BC Cancer Foundation, WWF
Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.
You can contact Jonathon at firstname.lastname@example.org