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December 15, 2010

Five Fundraising Resolutions for 2011

(reposted from Philanthropy Front and Center - Cleveland)

(This blog post is from Lauren Steiner, Principal,Grants Plus. It is her second for Philanthropy Front and Center Cleveland) 

00443793If you are one of the 45% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions every year, consider making a “Fundraising Resolution” in 2011. The list that follows are five possible fundraising resolutions that can help jump-start your fundraising in the coming year:
1. Get out from behind your desk more.

This may sound like the “get to the gym more” resolution we all make this time of year. Make a vow to yourself that you will schedule at least five new appointments with current donors in the first quarter of 2011. The purpose for these meetings is simple. You just want to meet with the donor to thank them for their support, tell them about progress in 2010 and explain some of the exciting things the  organization has planned for 2011. These visits can be both fun and educational. In addition to the donor learning new things about your organization, it gives you the opportunity to learn some things about them, which can help deepen your relationship and allow you to increase their support with more personalized requests.

2. Stay on top of the news related to your mission.

You can start by creating a Google Alert to generate topic-specific automatic e-mails. Set up your alerts using keywords associated with facets of your mission or things your donors (or prospective donors) care about. For example, if you are an organization that provides services for individuals who are homeless in Cleveland, you may want to have your Google Alert be “homeless and Cleveland.” Then whenever anything is added to the web containing these terms, you get an e-mail link to the item. This can be a great way to stay on top of an issue, get the latest statistics or even learn about companies or foundations that are interested in your mission.

3. Call a few colleagues to pick their brains about your biggest fundraising challenge.

Everyone in this field experiences similar challenges, from the board that “does not do fundraising” to the capital campaign that feels like it will never end. For every fundraiser experiencing these challenges, there is another who has overcome these issues and moved on to even greater challenges. Ask a colleague working for another organization for advice in exchange for a cup of coffee. If you don’t know of another person with whom you can talk – do some networking through a professional association like Association of Fundraising Professionals or the Planned Giving Council.

4. Step outside of your comfort zone.

Attend a meeting or gathering for another organization (American Marketing Association, National Association of Women Owned Businesses, etc.) or community group (Kiwanis, chambers of commerce or other civic groups). You may have to accompany a current member in order to attend, ask around and see to which groups other people you know belong. Usually these groups have educational speakers and
networking opportunities. Use both opportunities to learn about potential ideas for ways to think outside of the box in your fundraising or even meet new prospects. You may find a new venue for you or someone from your organization to speak at one of the group’s future events.

5. Consider the “six degrees of separation” that stand between you and your most sought-after prospect.

Your dream donor (think big... Oprah!) knows many people, and those people know people, and those people know people… you get the idea. The world is smaller than you think when you start identifying the connections we all share. At your first scheduled team meeting in 2011 (perhaps with your fundraising staff, board development committee, campaign committee, etc.) take five minutes and dream big. Make your no-holds-barred list of the potential donors who could transform your organization. Then have a group discussion, without any judgment, about any connections they know of that can help you get to that person. While most of this may be far-fetched, the exercise will likely reveal several true connections, which you can start to work on to get your transformational donor to take notice of your organization.  
And, one last thought… if you are reading this and it is still 2010, consider making an end of the year gift yourself to your favorite charity. Make it in honor of a special friend or use the charity’s online portal if you have not before. You will be in good company by joining those you seek to engage.

Good luck and best wishes for a successful 2011!

-- Lauren Steiner



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