The most common problem I come across with my clients is trying to find the time to do all the activities needed to create a robust fundraising program. If we had unlimited time in a week we would certainly be able to:

  • Connect with new donors and find out their motivation for giving
  • Reach out to potential donors and tell them wonderful things about the organization
  • Update current donors about the impact of their gift
  • Reengage lapsed donors and get them to renew their donations
  • Thank recent donors

An organization I am currently working with is really great at reaching out to potential donors. They are constantly in the community, getting the word out about their organization. But that’s where things seems to fall apart. There are so many events, conferences, and speaking opportunities, that there is hardly any time to follow-up with anyone. So most potential donors get added to a newsletter list and then receive an appeal at the end of the year. Most institutional donors get a follow-up email, a request for a meeting, and then a blind proposal. Needless to say, the conversion rate of donors is low and the renewal rate for donors is less than 40% (the national average is about 43%).

When I asked the Development Director what she needed most, she said time. Since we’re still working on that time machine, we’ll have to steal a page from manufacturing and project management and evaluate:

  • Customer needs – who are our donors? What are their motivations for giving? What do they need to see and hear to feel involved in our mission and renew their gift? Who are our new donor prospects? What are their interests?
  • The process – From the customer’s point of view, what happens once they learn about us, go to our website, or attend an event, or meet someone from the organization?
  • The employees – Who at the organization interacts with donors? Who can be doing more?
  • Reduce bottlenecks – Where does work get backed up? What are things that never seem to get done? Why?
  • Reduce variability – Where are we recreating the wheel? What activities are we doing over and over again? How do we do them faster?

In my next blog, I’ll tell you the result for this organization. Cliffhanger!

Ask me anything…

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Good ways to make time for individual donors

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