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What Every Fundraiser Needs to Know about “Snow Days”

The end of March in Colorado can be very unpredictable. Sometimes it’s 75 degrees, and sometimes we get over a foot of snow. Sometimes those two things happen back to back! As I sit here to write this blog post, my kids are home from school because they have a “snow day.” I put that in quotes, because this is the view in my back yard:

Ummm…so where is the snow? Good question. Sometime early this morning, when it was snowing, a committee in our district decided to make it snow day. It looked like the storm was going to get much worse in a short amount of time. But Colorado fooled them again, and the weather got better instead.

So what does any of that have to do with fundraising? It made me think about an organization that makes a quick decision about fundraising based only on how things “look” at the time. Sometimes such a decision is made without really considering previous trends or other possibilities.

I’ve seen organizations decide to stop doing a fundraising tactic because it isn’t improving, without questioning why it isn’t working. I’ve seen organizations ask board members or volunteers to help with fundraising, but then quickly give up at the first sign of bad weather.

Before you decide to call it a snow day, is there a chance the storm is about to let up and the sun will come out? Consider these things:
– Are we doing the same things we’ve always done but we’re expecting different results?
– Are we assuming we know the reason something isn’t working, but we don’t actually know? For example, we assume our board members aren’t reaching out to their networks because they are lazy, but in reality, they don’t feel like they have enough information to reach out with confidence.
– Are we panicking when fundraising income takes a downturn and assuming it will keep getting worse instead of thinking about the other actions we can take?
– Have you asked yourself “what is the strategic purpose of this fundraising tactic?” Are you trying to acquire new donors? Do you need a way to improve donor retention? Are you looking for a way to upgrade existing donors?

Sometimes taking a minute to slow down can keep you from making a knee jerk decision that you’ll regret. And hey, if you DID make a decision you regret, focus on what you can learn from that decision instead of beating yourself up for it. And ask others for help when you need it. Sometimes an outside perspective can be exactly what you need most.

Posted in Fundraising Mistakes, Learning Opportunities

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