Advancement and fundraising success comes from the consistent and persistent implementation of fundamental strategies and approaches.
But with so many technological “solutions” and various tactics one can be introduced to online or at a multitude of conferences, which strategies and approaches should we be consistently implementing?
Here are 5 basic guidelines to help you discern the strategies and approaches that will be most helpful to you in building a vibrant, functional, and effective advancement program.
In most every situation, we are wise to choose the strategy or approach that:
- Helps donors better understand our mission or the joy of giving. For instance, the proposed strategy may be to send personalized address labels along with your direct mail solicitation. This may gain you a few more responses. But what are you teaching your donor base about why they should give to your institution?
- Gets us closest to donors. For instance:
- If we can personally visit with the donors, we should do that;
- If we can’t personally visit with the donors, we should use the phone or video to call them;
- If we can’t personally visit or call the donors, we should write to them;
- If we can’t personally visit, call, or write the donors, we should email or connect with them via social media.
- We can easily explain. It is important to ask ourselves, “Can I succinctly articulate the primary aim or goal of the event, mailing, donor visit, activity, etc.?” If a single, primary purpose of the strategy being proposed is not quickly and easily identifiable – or when we can articulate too many purposes for a proposed strategy – we should look at employing an alternative.
- We can implement consistently and dependably. Being consistent and on time is more important than searching for the perfect photos or the most compelling story and winding up late. This is for all strategies and approaches: direct mail solicitations, event invitations, email solicitations, donor visits, etc. When we are consistently on time and not late, the message is that we care and so should others.
- Engages others. Our role isn’t to advance the institution ourselves. Our role isn’t even to raise all the money ourselves. Our role is to ensure that our institution is advanced and needed monies are raised. There is a difference. The successful advancement leader knows that “doing it myself,” while perhaps efficient in the moment, is far less effective than “working with and through others.” Of course, there are times when we are the ones who need to act or engage personally. But, in general, if you can engage a volunteer, Board member, a natural partner, or a group of them, you should.
The strategies that educate donors thoughtfully, get us closer to donors, have the most clear purpose, are easiest to implement consistently, and engage others are the building blocks of advancement success.