Many nonprofit organizations have “no-time” development staff.
No-time development staff are paid employees tasked with other duties in addition to fundraising. If you are the primary fundraiser for your organization but your title is executive director, operations director, finance director, or marketing director, then you are the no-time development staff.
Despite these limited resources, it’s not too late for this to be a breakthrough year for your organization’s fundraising efforts. But starting your breakthrough year this late in 2016 requires effective planning and disciplined implementation of the plan. Simply put, it requires evaluating past performance, developing a focused fundraising plan, and sticking to the plan. Start by reviewing your fundraising efforts last year. This includes the strategies implemented and the net income each strategy generated. Much of this information can be obtained from your financials.
Since time is your most precious resource as a “no-time” fundraiser and nearly a third of the year has already passed, it is important to use your fundraising bandwidth for those strategies that raise the most money.
For this reason, evaluate each 2015 fundraising strategy based on whether it should continue, expand, or stop: if a tour of homes only raised $500 but required 80 hours of your time, it may be a good idea to end it. But if this tour raised $10,000 with the same time investment, consider opportunities to expand it and generate more income for the same amount of work.
If the organization doesn’t have a written fundraising plan, draft one with the information you have available. As a no-time fundraising staff member, it is beneficial to develop a simple plan that includes: • Fundraising strategies • Amount raised in 2015 from each strategy • 2016 goal for each strategy • Key deadlines for each strategy • Who leads and assists with each strategy
Most important, your plan should focus on a few high-impact fundraising opportunities. This might include a major donor campaign, an annual campaign, and one or two successful special events. It will likely include renewing your lapsed donors, personally asking current donors for increased gifts, and engaging board members in fundraising (since these are often fundraising’s “low hanging fruit”).
Larger organizations with development teams can make it appear to manage multiple fundraising projects, and some of your board members or donors will see their materials and ask, “Why doesn’t our organization have a planned giving campaign or participate in Giving Tuesday or ask Coca Cola to give us $100,000?”
These well-intentioned suggestions are like the mythological sirens that can cause your fundraising efforts to crash and sink among the rocks. It is appropriate to acknowledge their good idea but note that a limited bandwidth requires adhering to the current fundraising plan. Invest your limited time into the fundraising strategies you developed and the board approved. Do this and your organization can meet or exceed its fundraising goals!