Okay, So What’s the Plan?

January is one of those times when the whole world seems to be in “planning mode.” We’re making resolutions, we’re passing the budget, we’re optimistic about all we can achieve this year. But it’s one thing to say you’re going to do it…and it’s another thing to actually get it done.

I recently read a great article from my friends at Front Range Source with a general fundraising calendar for the whole year. This doesn’t take the place of your Fundraising Plan, but it could kickstart some discussions and thoughts about key deadlines and benchmarks. 

Here’s a quick summary of what they suggested, but I highly recommend you read the full article

January – Analyze your results and get your plan set for the new year.

February – Get your messaging straight.

March – Ask you LYBUNTs (gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not This)

April – Review your welcome packet.

May – Focus on stewardship and major gifts.

June – Make sure your website is up to snuff.

July – Analyze results from the year so far.

August – Pay attention to the board.

September – Plan out your year-end campaign.

October – All asks should be out.

November – Follow up on major gift asks.

December – Follow up on ALL asks.

This fundraising calendar helps you to see the year at-a-glance. You can do this! It doesn’t all have to happen this month. And with a detailed strategic annual fundraising plan, you will know exactly how to spend your time. Cheers to the New Year!

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Posted in Fundraising Plan, Individual Giving

Actually, you’re wrong about that…says Giving USA


The latest Giving USA report came out this summer and you may have already seen the results. But if you look more closely at the data or read through the full report, you might actually hear some surprising information. Like the fact that some of your assumptions about fundraising are totally WRONG. Here’s a few:

People don’t donate as much to charity when there’s a political campaign going on.
This isn’t true. Giving USA has not found any decrease in charitable giving during the years of major presidential campaigns (or major mid-term’s, like right now). Donors seem to treat their political giving and charitable giving as two totally separate budgets. The only impact we have seen is a positive one: nonprofits linked to causes supported by the party that is NOT currently in power tend to see a big increase in donations after a big campaign.

If you want big money, you should write a grant.
Not really. Giving USA tells us year after year that 70% of all fundraising dollars come from individual donors. And given that half of foundations are family foundations, and bequests also come from relationships with individual donors, almost 9 out of every 10 gifts is a direct result of a personal relationship with an individual.

Corporate giving is on the rise thanks to Cause Related Marketing.
Cause Related Marketing IS on the rise, but that increases marketing – not charitable giving. Don’t count on corporations giving you cash because just you asked nicely. It’s crucial to remember that most corporations are looking for the best ways to improve their own bottom line. Corporate giving is still only 0.9% of pre-tax profits, so plug into their marketing budget instead.

Donor Advised Funds are more popular than Family Foundations for donors with big money. Not true. Giving USA actually finds that high net worth donors are a fan of both DAF’s and Family Foundations. Sometimes each member of the family has their own DAF where they can make their own giving decisions, and then they come together to decide who gets money from the foundation.

It’s harder to fundraise now than it was before.
No again. I’m definitely a “glass half full” kind of person, but Giving USA helps me to keep that optimistic attitude. Last year over $410 billion was donated to nonprofits in this country! We have more tools, more data, more options, and more manpower than ever. And despite how things might feel on a hard day, the numbers just keep going up.

I hope you have learned something you didn’t know, but hopefully you DO know that YOUR work makes a real difference in our world. I see how much you care, and it shows. Keep it up! And call me when you could use some extra help.

Posted in Giving USA

Board Member Job Descriptions = Smart

As the busy year-end season approaches, many of you Fundraisers may be thinking – how come my board doesn’t help me more with fundraising? Some of my clients have been talking with me about this too and one of my first questions always is, “Do you have board member job descriptions?” More often than not, the answer is no.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that a job description for your board is some magical solution that produces board members who bring in tons of donations. But it’s still something I encourage clients to do for this main reason: what you expect of your board members could be very different than what they THINK you expect. Why not make it very clear?

A board member job description is an efficient and effective way to communicate your expectations to all board members. Yes, I’m thinking about fundraising specifically. Let them know how much you expect them to give (minimum) and that they need to make a gift every year. Let them know other ways you expect them to participate in fundraising: helping to find corporate sponsors, inviting guests to your fundraising event, and/or bringing potential donors in for a tour of your program are some examples. Another way to ask board members to help with fundraising is to expect them to make thank you calls and send thank you notes to major donors.

Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you for all board members to have the same expectations. You could make some requirements mandatory (like making a personal gift) and then have board members choose other ways they most want to help. This approach makes it easy to see what type of board members you need to recruit in order to fill the gaps.

Of course, it’s not just about fundraising. A good board member job description can also include: meeting attendance requirements, committee participation expectations, details about term limits, and more. Executive Committee members should have more detailed job descriptions that are specific to their individual roles.

Put yourself in your board members’ shoes. Wouldn’t you like to know, from the beginning, exactly what is expected of you? Putting together a board member job description is a great way to make sure you have done this for your board.

And if you’re thinking that writing down all these expectations will make your board members leave the organization, well – maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. If they are not willing to do the minimum of what you expect, then it’s better to recruit another volunteer who is willing.

If this task feels overwhelming, send me an email. I am happy to share some sample job descriptions with you. And then maybe when you’re planning for year-end next year you may feel differently about how much your board will be able to help.

Posted in Board of Directors, Year End Fundraising