Being in Fifth Grade—Strategic Fundraising

When you were in fifth grade everything was planned.  Safe. Secure.  You’ve been in school a few years now.  You get the drill.  You’ve mastered the playground.  The challenges of adolescence aren’t even on the horizon.

The biggest challenge in your life was figuring out what was going to be on the test.

Many nonprofit execs, board members and even fundraisers think they’re still there.  Strategic fundraising—what’s that?  Who needs it?

Really?  Yup.

Fundraising is the same this year as last year.  Hardly sounds like strategic fundraising, does it?  “Let’s keep doing what we’re doing.  Sure, it’s a ton of work.  But it’s working—sort of.”  The motto is “nothing ventured, nothing lost.”

Like being in fifth grade, this kind of fundraising brings the satisfying feeling that we’re safe.  We’ll make it.  No surprises.  When something actually does crash in on you—and it will, you feel a little like dying.  Don’t change the linens for the gala.

Strategic fundraising isn’t fifth grade.  It requires you to think.  To do things differently.  To take risks.  Sure, you’ll fail from time to time.  But your successes will far outweigh your failures.  I promise.

“How can you be sure?”, you say.  Because I’ve been there.  Yes, I have.  I’ve seen what happens when an organization with a hide-bound fundraising program breaks free and grows up.  How about a 600% revenue increase in a year.

Strategic fundraising means engaging in strategy.  Thinking.  Planning.  Then doing.  Unlike the fifth grade where the greatest mystery was wondering what your mother packed in your lunch.

Principle 8 of The Eight Principles® is Invest, Integrate & Evaluate™.  For your fundraising program to remain healthy and grow, you must invest your time and financial resources into it.  To avoid being at cross purposes, you must integrate all of your individual efforts toward common goals.  To avoid stagnation, you must continually evaluate your efforts being willing to refine what’s working and jettison what’s not.

Strategic fundraising isn’t as sure and comfortable as fifth grade.  But it’s a heckava lot more fun—and the rewards so much greater.

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