Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Many years ago, I met with with a senior citizen organization. Early on in our meeting, I asked the executive director, Adele Wilkins, a delightful sexagenarian, how much money she was looking to raise.
Fair question, wouldn’t you say?
I noticed during our tour of the facilities that the computer center was unused. Adele explained to me that they’d gotten a grant to create the program several years earlier but had no funding to maintain the technology or the classes.
The programs they did have were funded by insignificant earned income, bake sales, spaghetti dinners and small grants from a handful of local business sponsors and foundation funders.
What they were really excited about, according to Adele (and what they hoped to bring me on board to plan), was an idea one of their board members had shared for creating a signature event, a local “Antiques Roadshow” that would become an annual occurrence.
“What a charming idea,” I responded. “How did you come up with that?”
“One of the regular appraisers from the PBS Antiques Roadshow series recently moved into the area,” Adele responded excitedly.
“Do you know him personally?” I asked.
“No,” she admitted.
“Well then, one of your board members must know him?”
“Well, no…” Adele replied, her voice trailing off. Despite this, she seemed to be sure that the gentleman in question would be utterly delighted to share his years of hard-won expertise for free to raise money for their organization.
Do you have a plan for how much money you’ll be raising this year? A reasonable dollar goal for grants, for individual giving, for online giving?
Or are you operating like the senior center?
- Your board member’s cousin knows someone who is best friends with the brother of Bill Gate’s wife! Let’s drop everything and spend the rest of the week writing a grant proposal for the Gates Foundation.
- You just found out about the Good Search toolbar! Once you sign up, every time someone uses it, your organization makes money!
When you begin to break away from living a hand-to-mouth existence, when you focus on a plan, centered around building genuine relationships (yes, cliche, yes trite, but that is what sound fundraising is all about) in a strategic, consistent way, you’ll find your fundraising becomes easier. Steadier. More reliable.