Ditch the Fundraising Drudgery

By on August 7, 2018   /   Leave a comment

You can set goals all day long, but if you don’t know where they are taking you—they are just chores. Drudgery. Items to check off an unending to-do list. And if you’re anything like me (and the rest of the Western world), we don’t need extra items there.

As a fundraiser, it can be easy to think once you reach an initial financial goal your work is done, and naturally shift into maintenance mode. But that’s not the way it should be.

You might be surprised to know, fundraising has little to do with money—and more to do with how you are working with your donors to accomplish something together. We set funding goals not for the money, but to achieve impact for your vision. So we, and our donors, can accomplish something together.

We’re told as fundraisers that we are “supposed to” communicate with our donors in a certain way to maintain an acceptable retention rate, that we need to add new donors each year because some will inevitably stop giving, and we feel a sense of panic just thinking about asking current donors to increase their giving.

But if we truly want to make an impact, we have to get out of the place where we set goals because we’re “supposed” to do it. Before you set a goal, you need to know why you’re setting it in the first place.

The “Why”

Identify the “why” behind your work. The basic idea is to understand what impact your ministry will have. Why do we need more funding? If we are able to see more funding come in, how will that impact people’s lives?

Once you’ve identified what the impact of your work together will be, you’ll be shocked at how much funding comes in. Funding flows most freely when it is the only thing holding you back from impact.

4 Questions to Identify the “Why”

With any fundraising goal you are setting, you should be able to ask yourselves these questions:

1. What problem are we trying to solve?
2. What would happen if we did nothing at all?
3. What is the greatest need among the community we are serving?
4. If we actually work together as a team (with our donors), what could we accomplish this year?

A huge motivator in goal setting can be asking yourself one simple question: What are the consequences for not getting this done? Again, this has nothing to do with funding and everything to do with the “why” behind your goal setting.

The Plan

Now that you’ve discovered the “why,” let’s block out some time to create a plan that will fund your impact based on the answers to the questions above.

When creating a plan, it is highly beneficial to carve out a day, or a few hours over a few weeks, to work with a fundraising coach to map out a plan you can have confidence in (creating a 12 month plan is probably best). If you don’t create a plan, you will end up frustrated because you won’t have a clear map to where you are going. But if you know where you are going, you will have a purpose and motivation to move ahead.

Creating a solid plan allows you more time to not work. Proper goal setting allows you to give yourself an allotted time to work toward the goal, and frees you to use the remaining time to focus on whatever you want. Goal setting and planning should relieve pressure from your day-to-day (especially when you have a 12-month plan).

A Successful Funding Plan in 3 Simple Steps:

1. Set the funding goal.

What are the funding needs? What is my funding goal?

2. List opportunities for funding.

Look at areas available for increased funding–asking for larger annual gifts each year, increased monthly giving, and re-engaging lapsed donors (those who used to give but don’t give now, inviting them to join in giving again).

3. Create milestones or mini-deadlines.

Make a plan with monthly or quarterly deadlines and put tasks or action items with them. Ask yourself, “What are the weekly tasks that will help me reach each of my milestones?

I hope these steps to goal setting will encourage you to start asking yourself why you are pursuing certain goals and to set a fundraising plan in place. Remember, fundraising is not about the money—it’s about you working together with your donors to accomplish something beautiful for those in need.


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