FYI Blog

Things That Go Bump in the Night



It’s Halloween on Saturday, and as we’re in the throes of year-end fundraising and already launching January campaigns, we see several themes emerging of a scary “things that go bump in the night” nature. You know … those nagging thoughts that come to you in the dead of night about the steps you could be taking to move your fundraising program forward like a zombie looking for its next meal…

But have no fear! Shake the cobwebs from your head and let us shine a flashlight on different areas you can focus on to improve your fundraising:

If you lack of clarity about where your program stands compared to budget, that’s a problem. Knowing that 25 percent or more of your budget will be realized in the next two months, you need to have reports at your fingertips so there are no surprises. Don’t trick yourself into complacency—instead, treat yourself to reporting and analytics that will help you sleep better at night!

Building your budget for next year and looking for that silver bullet that will transform your fundraising program into a blockbuster? Are you clear about whether you have fundamental program issues like retention, which Roger Craver has been sounding the alarm about? Or maybe your retention and other core metrics are strong, but you want to commit to growing your program and need to make a stronger case for investment to the powers that be?

I’m sure at your October board meeting one of your board members, spooked by the cost of direct mail acquisition, pulled you aside and asked, “Can’t we just do this all online?” If you’re like me, you took a deep breath and launched into your most persuasive explanation/justification for a multi-channel approach. But is that enough? Barb Perell laid out some salient talking points in her recent blog post that could help you shut down that kind of spooky talk for good.

If you can force yourself to step back and think about the coming year, this might be a great time to take some bold risks in order to learn something new that could move your program forward. For example, is your testing program a Frankenstein patchwork of tests that aren’t really moving the dial? Evan Herring’s post outlines key ways to make your testing count and carve out an innovation budget to do more testing, while also understanding how to manage that risk.

Here’s a nightmarish thought: Are you leaving money on the table by underestimating your donors’ giving potential? 2016 may be the year to invest more deeply in a new program area—mining your file for those donors who are ready to step up and become mid-level donors. A fiendishly good idea!

Finally, for those of us still awake after midnight thinking at an even higher strategic level, consider addressing issues like diversity in our programs. Jennifer Phillips outlines some guidelines we should all take to heart.

Don’t be afraid of the challenges ahead—get inspired and take stock of where your program is now, dust off those goals you had way back when before you got crazy busy…and recommit to moving your program forward. Because there’s nothing scarier than a stagnant program!