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Sustainable Fundraising Strategies – Is There Such a Thing?

By July 29, 2010October 7th, 2014Fundraising, Success Stories

It was February 2007 when I delivered my first Sustainable Fundraising Strategies workshop. I created the workshop after watching organizations struggle with bringing money in from individual donors. My goal was to create a space for staff and board members to dig in deeper and discuss how they could increase their fundraising from individual donors and to provide tactics & strategies that could be implemented immediately.

My hope has been that the work we do in 8, 6, or 3 hours together will impact organizations for a long time into the future. The goal is to change paradigms in those workshops. We focus on taking any “lack” conversations out of existence and focus on possibility and impact.

Do the strategies last? Do people get something from the time together? Recently I received this message:

Just after our one session with you years ago, we had done everything you suggested.

In 2006 our revenue was 16,000+ (that was our first year)
In 2007 our revenue was 106,000
in 2008 our revenue was 108,000
in 2009 our revenue will end up slightly above $255,000 . . . we were just short of making our $265,000 goal and haven’t done our annual ask yet and have traditionally done about $10,000 with it . . .

Our donors now repeatedly tell us that we do more for them than they do for us . . . In fact our biggest donors are now into selectively bringing their potential big donor friends into the circle. ~Marnita

Although the workshop is constantly updated, there are some core topics that get covered no matter what the length:

  • Storytelling: Learning to tell stories that powerfully convey your mission.
  • Money: Talk about money so the community understands why more money is needed.
  • Asking: Identifying what is holding your organization back from asking for large gifts.
  • Using social media to support our communication.

I’m grateful to learn when the workshop makes a difference because I believe that focusing on measures, donor-centered actions, and clear communication will bring in more dollars. I’ve seen it work immediately. One participant phoned me the next morning after a full day workshop to report she’d just asked for and gotten a yes to a $5000 gift. A gift she’d been struggling to ask for previously.

And just last week I received this message:

I was in an event planning meeting today and my volunteers were talking about lowering the dollar amounts of our live auction. They were uncomfortable stating large dollar amounts in front of an audience even though each of them has contributed over $10,000. In fact the one that was the most uncomfortable has made a $50,000 cash gift.

The reason I am emailing you is because it was your training years ago with my board of directors about money that helped me move this group forward and be unafraid to ask for large donations! I was able to explain to them that it is okay to ask for money and that is the ONLY reason we are holding this golf tournament. People expect it and we never have to apologize for asking for money at a fundraising event.

I wanted you to know how much your work makes a difference even years later… I simply understood that their discomfort had to do with how their family handled money when they were growing up. And from that place I could move them forward without being hooked myself. ~Michelle

Since that first workshop I’ve now delivered three different length versions of it: Full-day, day and- a-half and the ever popular 3-hour session to more than 500 people. About 1/3 of those who have attended have been board members who leave with an excitement for helping with fundraising that is contagious.

I’m delighted to learn from Marnita and Michelle that they created sustainable strategies from our time together that continue to serve their organizations.

Join us in August for the three-hour workshop in St. Paul. Bring board members or new staff. I promise you’ll take away helpful strategies that last.

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