Tag Archives: Fundraising Plan

What Can You Do to Raise Money Today?

The pandemic’s effects do not seem to be easing. We are quarantine fatigued, still social distancing, and, even in states which are re-opening, we are confronting unemployment rates that have not been seen since the Great Depression. Nonprofits have been furloughing or laying off personnel, and, in some cases, eliminating staff positions, all in an effort to reduce expenses. There are justifiable concerns that donations will be down, membership dues will go unpaid, and pledges may go unfulfilled.

So, what can you do to raise money today?

  1. If you have not checked in with your donors, members, volunteers and other important supporters, do so ASAP. As with all stewardship, you don’t want every contact to be an ask so just call to check in.
  2. Consider donor pledges, grant applications and current grants that have yet to be paid. For each commitment due by June 30th, make a phone call. Some will tell you that everything is still on track, some will tell you they cannot honor the commitment, and some may be unreachable because your program officer or donor has been furloughed. If you cannot reach them by phone, then try an email. But remember, this is a time to make a personal connection, not just shoot off a quick note and hope they will give you the $50,000.
  3. Assess your top 50 donors. Are there any that have yet to give a gift this year? Maybe they gave last in December or, perhaps, they skipped a year? Do you know if they are still able to give a gift this year?
  4. If you are looking for immediate funds, you can consider asking this group if they could make their gift early this year to help you meet your current, extraordinary needs. The ask should still be based on the essential elements of an ask that you would use at any time of year in any financial climate. Include a story that will humanize your need and what their gift will provide. Specifically:
    1. Why should they give to you?
    1. Why should they give to you now?

General need, outside of organizations performing emergency relief, is not enough. They will want to know:

  1. What services are you currently providing?
  2. What are your service plans for the next six months – with or without opening your doors?
  3. What are your financial plans for the next six months – with or without opening your doors?
  4. Is their gift going to make an impact? That is, if you need $500,000 for the rest of the year, how do you plan on raising the remaining $490,000?

If someone can no longer give or has shifted priorities, do not take it personally or act disappointed. Today, people are split between those who can give and give more right now, and those who will give less or not at all. The only thing you can do is continue to keep a good attitude and keep stewarding, and then, asking your donors. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you will be to receive a donation.

If you have not been strong in stewardship in the past, now is the time to connect with people in addition to the donors you will ask for an early gift. Plant the seeds for long-term growth. If you only focus on the people you are asking for a gift now, you will have no one to ask down the line. In other words, consider how to “raise money today” in six months, a year or many years down the line.

10 Ways for Nonprofits to Survive CoronaVirus Shutdowns

Whether you are concerned about your upcoming event, major donor appointments, or board meetings, the future is unknown. Here are some suggestions on what you can do if you and your nonprofit staff are working from home due to CoronaVirus Shutdowns. (And if you read this list and are still unsure what to do, we are offering free 30 minute consultations)

Stewardship during CoronaVirus Shutdowns

  • If we are all quarantined, donors may be easier to reach by phone. Use this time to call donors, check in on them. If they are in a good headspace, update or thank them. If they are worrying about a loved one or are sick themselves, consider if there is anything you could do to help like send some soup or a small package of easy to make groceries.
  • Encourage board members to make thank you or check-in calls. If everyone is home and looking for a little contact with the outside world, a thank you call will feel extra special.
  • Updates don’t have to stop. In fact, you might have more time to write up a story or work on a video when no one is stopping in your office. Share your latest and greatest accomplishments with pride.


  • This is probably obvious but make a plan B for all events. Most nonprofits cannot cancel do to CoronaVirus shutdowns without impacting their annual income. Will you have an un-gala or un-fundraiser? Will you invite people to dress up and meet virtually? Create a social media event? Move your paddle raise online? Consider sites like Greater Giving, Classy, OneCause, or Bidding For Good.
  • Check your contracts and insurance policies. If you do have to cancel a gala or conference, you may be able to reduce some of your losses. Are there any pieces that can be cancelled? If not, can you find a sponsor to underwrite the catering with promotion to your lists, your social media and your site?

Planning or re-evaluating your plan

  • Re-evaluate your Fundraising Plan and your budget. We don’t know how long it will be before we get back to any kind of normal. What fundraising can continue virtually and what needs to be postponed? What will your plan look like, assuming in-person fundraising doesn’t start up again until the fall or 2021? What are you doing to remind your donors, volunteers, and members that you are still worthy of their time, energy and financial support?

Help your employees work from home during CoronaVirus shutdowns:

  • Consider noise cancelling headphones, purchasing productivity planners, and/or a workout app for staff. As someone who has worked from home for more than 10 years, I know there are times that I am less productive than others. When I realize it, I go back to tried and true practices like re-reading a favorite productivity book.  Recently, I purchased a new Productivity Planner. If it is someone’s first time at home, it will not be easy to ignore the laundry, the phone, or kids looking for that set of markers they haven’t seen in months. Help them overcome the hurdles and feel positive about the experience.
  • Create strategies to connect staff to each other and the outside world. Creativity and collaboration are the backbones of many organizations. And most people don’t want to work on their own which is why they got a job in an office. Help them through this potentially isolating time. Choose a site like GoToWebinar, Zoom Meeting, or Google Hangouts to meet more often.
  • Hold meetings that have people on screen. Not that I have ever worked on one project while attending a webinar or on a large, group call, but focus may drift if people are not held accountable. It’s true, everyone will have to shower and get dressed (at least their top halves) but it will help you get more done.
  • Set hours and expectations but expect interruptions. Some people may need to shift hours if that is convenient – people will have to deal with kids at home when they are supposed to be at work – but just try to have everyone on the same page as much as possible.

This will be a tough time for all of us. Don’t let fear take over. And, stay healthy.

The Tradeoff of Time vs Money in Fundraising – 7 Considerations

Tradeoff of Time vs. Money in Fundraising We all know the adage, time is money. Nonprofits often think volunteer time is better to spend than precious dollars. But is it really?

And in the time of the pandemic, is there more time or less?

The Tradeoff of Time vs Money in Fundraising

Let’s say that you don’t want to spend money on a fundraising consultant for a capital campaign.  You believe you can do it on your own – you have a dedicated group willing to put in the work.

Can you get the same fundraising results without investing the money in a nonprofit consultant like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates? No, time is, literally, money lost. Money lost by not knowing:

  1. How much to ask for. Most clients underestimate the ask amounts of all but the very highest and lowest donors.
  1. How to ask. We train solicitors to ask for seemingly outrageous donations, to overcome any objections to the campaign during a solicitation, and how to be persistent without being pushy during each step of the process. For instance, an untrained ear will hear “no,” and walk away. We teach solicitors to listen to hear if they are really saying “I need more information” or “not yet.”
  1. Marketing materials are a huge distraction. The weeks you spend holding off fundraising while crafting the perfect marketing materials will not improve your outcome. Marketing is within many capital campaign committee members’ comfort zones so it is not surprising that it is deemed essential before you can do anything else.  Truth: Many a failed campaign have had beautiful pieces. When we are called in to help with a stalled or unsuccessful campaign, we are almost always shown interesting, well produced marketing materials. Instead, we help you create a strong case for giving to your worthy organization – in a nice piece that an outside designer can work on while you are moving through your fundraising plan.
  1. How to create a fundraising plan with action items.  You need a campaign fundraising plan that leads you through your prospects in a methodical way. Who do you approach first? Who should be in your second, third or fourth round of solicitations? We help you avoid a scattered approach and focus on those who can make an impactful gift to the campaign.
  1. Who to ask.  Most clients have hidden gems in their donor database. Sometimes they will be low level, long-term donors with high capacity. Other times they will be people giving at a mid-level range that could easily be a major donor. We help you find the best prospects. And, help you determine when is the best time to ask them for a gift to your capital campaign.
  1. The potential for the overall goal.  What would you do if we could discover that you could raise $2,500,000 over your current goal? Our feasibility studies help predict accurate, achievable goals. Potentially, a goal you would not even consider without advice from someone like us.
  1. It just takes longer without counsel.  There is a lot to learn on the internet. In fact, MJA has 118 articles, before this one, that reference a capital campaign. It takes a lot of time to understand best practices, fundraising techniques and capital campaign strategies.  Time that could be spent raising money instead of watching construction costs rise.

If you still think the tradeoff of time vs money in fundraising without counsel is worth it, here is a link to the 118 other articles on capital campaigns. No judgements – this is why we write them.

If you would like to speak with us about your upcoming (or stalled) capital campaign, email me and we can start the process today.

The Fundraising Plan

a goal without a plan is just a wishA fundraising plan is the overview of qualitative and quantitative current realities, goals and the outline you will use to reach those goals. What should you include in your plan?

Fundraising goals
In this section of your plan, you should include a financial target as well as a the total number of donors that would make your campaign a success. At some point you will want to determine the number of donors by dollar range, but let’s start with the aggregate.

Part of any good annual campaign is to have a broad base of support, representative of the community as a whole. No campaign can be truly successful if there are only a handful of donors. While it is true that a small number of donors will provide the bulk of the financial goal (the infamous 80/20 rule), you want to have an army of contributors so as to achieve a trues sense of community building.

The financial goal should be rooted in reality. Understand your current budget as well as projections of requirements for the coming year. Don’t increase next year’s budgeted revenue by 20% just so you have a little room to breathe unless you can show that 20% is necessary right now.   That is not to say that you cannot increase your goals. Consider how you will justify any increases. People will ask for an explanation and you will be expected to respond thoughtfully and responsibly.

Strategies and Tactics
This is where you explain how you will achieve your goals. Consider some options and examples to incorporate starting with the overall strategies, e.g., this year we will focus on new donors of $250 or more even while we seek to retain 80% of all prior donors of $250 or more. Why? When we examined our current membership, only 43% gave to the annual fund last year. While they are essential to funding our congregation, we would like to increase new first-time donors—as well as revived PYBUNTS*–to realize a 51% rate of participation. Then consider how you will retain donors and how you will seek new donors. Be specific and list out your tactics.

A true plan will assign goals, costs and administrative responsibilities to each new element. Some costs may be staff time – it is important to know whether you can realistically incorporate these ideas with your current staff.

Case for support
Do you have a clear and concise explanation of why anyone should give to support the congregation’s annual fund, particularly if they pay several thousand dollars in dues and fees already?

Print out a calendar of the next twelve months. Put in every aspect of your new fundraising plan. Is it realistic to assume the staff has the time for prospect research in the in the weeks that surround the High Holidays? Probably not, as the office will be busy with High Holiday matters – including the High Holiday appeal. Can you, instead, look at January and February to begin prospect research? If you want to have three emails after the high holidays but before the year-end (including one on the 31st) when do you need to start the series? And when do you need to write the copy?

Creating a plan is no easy task. But monitoring it on a regular basis is essential for any real success. It is a bit like dating when looking for a spouse. You are not looking for a one-time gift from someone you will never see again. You are looking for a long-term commitment that will leave you both excited about the relationship. The way you approach it as well as the way you think about it after a few months can help you decide whether this is going smoothly. You may want to go back to the calendar and build in benchmarks as well as dates to assess progress and achievements.

Don’t stay on a path that is not working and hope for a miracle. Instead plan for success. If you are having trouble creating your own plan, Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can help. Email Abigail to find out how.