Back to Basics

 

We are all breathlessly waiting for the end of this year. Cranking through Giving Tuesday and and the run up to the End -Of-The-Year fundraising push is lots of hard work and hopefully will provide you with big dividends. January is right around the corner when you can take a breath and see where you are. 

Too Much Advice, Too Much To Read   TL;DR

You may have dozens of articles bookmarked about how you could do more and better in the coming year with new tools, platforms and channels to reach your supporters, donors, the maybe interested or the idly curious.  In your copious spare time, maybe you can read them. They will give you all sorts of advice on what you need to do, have to do to and maybe might consider doing. There is so much out there, it is easy to be overwhelmed by all the advice, directives, and analyses: too long, didn’t read.  

Is There Shortcut? *

Just as there is no magic rolodex, seamless social media programming and ice bucket challenge, there is also no easy or automatic way to do your best communications and fundraising. There is no substitute for thoughtful planning and hard work, no matter how much we wish it were different.  

Instead of looking for the new things you might want to consider, do your organization, and yourself, a big favor, take a deep breath and go back to the basics.

Below are a few activities of your organization that would benefit from some fresh eyes, and maybe a little tweaking

 

Check your mission statement.

Does it say what it needs to, does your staff know it like the back of their hands, does your board (!)?  If it is good, then don’t touch it; it it could be better, invest the time and energy into honing it into one that does reflect what you do. And sounds good as well.

 

Take a good, analytical look at your donor and mailing lists.

  • Are your donors segmented by region, age, gender, association and giving history?
  • Do you know who donors are by persona;  your demographics?
  • Is it current, or is there a lot of deadwood there? 
  • Are there holes in the lists, e.g. having a mailing address but missing email or phone number?  (This maybe a good excuse to reach out and touch someone without any kind of ask!)

I been at my new office little more than a year, and am still getting fundraising letters from the previous 5 tenants, what a total shame for the waste and lost opportunity. 

 

How’s your donor retention rate?

Did you gain or lose donors last year? Compare your overall numbers and decide what they tell you. Decide where will your efforts give better result, either in seeking new donors or re-engaging previous donors that may not have given to you recently.  Pay attention to when they give, how often they give and of course, how much. This can be very illuminating and help direct your efforts more efficiently. 

 

Are your systems working well?

Go to a different computer or ask a friend and make a small donation to your nonprofit. How does your site handle it,  is it quick and intuitive or are there fields and forms and pages to click through? I am sure there is some statistic out there that correlated the PIA factor of a donor site to how many donations are abandoned before the final pay button. Check to be sure you get accurate and timely notifications when donations are made so you can choose the appropriate follow up activity. 

 

Were you thanked?   

  • Did you just receive  an email acknowledgment of the transaction?
  • Any more personal thanks- note, call, email from real person, staff, board or volunteer, from your org?
  • Was your name posted anywhere?
  • How long did it take, or did a thank you simply never appear?

 

For those of us in fundraising, placing emphasis on thanking donors sincerely and promptly is the easiest thing of all; you’d be surprised how many screw this up. See donor retention 🙂

 

How About the Bank?

  • Take a look at how finances are processed in your office, are all the checks and balances in place?
  • Be sure your accounts are balanced and your records easily accessible and reliable.
  • Check to see if there is anything that you can to make financial reporting easier.
  • Are the right people authorized to sign checks or use funds? Do any of them need to be changed?

Check Your Website

  • Be sure your images and text reflect where you are now. Update them if necessary.
  • Check that the links are working and your sign up and donate pages are working smoothly. 
  • Make sure your colors and font are consistent throughout your site, your language and tone send the message you want them to. 

Cleaning Up the Front Yard and Backyard Feels Good

  • Clean up the office, store what you must keep, get rid of the rest. Declutter. 
  • Be sure printed products are stocked- letterhead, business cards, brochures, flyers, etc.
  • Put up a big full year calendar and mark off important dates, stand back and take a look. 

 

While some of this may not seem exciting or revenue generating, you may find it can be both.

  • First off, cleaning up looks good.
  • Second, you may find things that you thought were lost or things you saved that can now go.
  • Third, the way forward will be clearer.
  1. All of these exercises offer you the opportunity to see your org as others may experience you. It is clear and easy to see your information? Assure the donation process is quick and painless, and thank you’s are prompt and sincerely appreciative. 
  2. Having reliable information is critical to developing clear and reasonable goals for the upcoming year. How much time and effort to  seek  new donors and members, how much to keep your loyal ones now, and engage those who have drifted away. 
  3. Investing in yourself, your staff, your systems shows pride in the work you do and how you do it.

This Stuff is Easy

These are easy, straightforward things that you can do, in less time than you may think, and is a truly smart investment in the important work you are doing. It may not be possible to do all of them, so maybe only choose a few,  or you could get all fired up to add to this list.

While things may be working OK, taking a fresh, clean look at how things are getting done could be very revealing. See what you will discover when you clear up and can start clean.

If you think you need some guidance or have some questions, do call…

310 828 6979

 

*There are no shortcuts, but you knew that!

 

Image credit: https://www.google.com/search?biw=1711&bih=820&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=49IFXJW2EM6r0PEP