Tag Archives: new donors

Set New Fundraising Goals for the Year? Make Sure You Have the Resources to Succeed

Resources for fundraising goalsIt’s a few weeks into the new year and, hopefully, you have set your new fundraising goals for the year.  And, if you intend to achieve those goals, we also hope that you have a fundraising plan with a stewardship calendar) in place. There is a reason for the adage, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

How did you set your fundraising goal?

Let’s talk about the reality of your situation.  Choose the letter that best describes your nonprofit’s fundraising goals for the year:

  1. I/we kept our fundraising goal the same as last year.
  2. I/we took the current budget and increased our fundraising goal by XX%.
  3. I/we looked at the budget shortfall and added that to the amount we raised last year to create our fundraising goal.
  4. I/we looked at what we raised last year, estimated we would have the same donor retention and new acquisition rates, and created our fundraising goal based on similar results.
  5. I/we looked at what we raised last year, estimated that we could implement a stewardship calendar that could help retain previous gifts while increasing our donor retention by 10% this year. We added an estimated amount based on those proportions to our fundraising goal.
  6. I/we looked at what we raised last year, estimated we could implement a stewardship calendar that could help increase our donor retention by 10% this year, determined we could hold three first-time donor events and three introduction emails to increase our first-time donor retention by 20%, and examine our lapsed donors above $1,000 for the past five years by looking at donors who could be reactivated. Then we established estimated increases for each category and added that to our fundraising goal.

The truth is, it is hard to get from A to F. It requires resources – human and financial. You cannot take the time to analyze your giving patterns, if you do not have someone to collect the data and analyze it. Even if you outsource the analysis – Mersky Jaffe & Associates can help you with this – you still need the resources to turn the findings into funding.

You will need resources for all aspects of your plan. Creating an overall stewardship calendar? You may want to send out additional snail mail letters. Creating a planned giving program? You might need collateral. Wondering how to deepen the engagement with first time donors? You might want to have coffee with the strongest prospects.  That all takes time and money.

Need it spelled out? Assuming you can increase the amount of money you raise this yea, without changing what you are doing, is a sure way to disappoint yourself, the executive director and board.

So, instead of considering what will not get done as a consequence of your new areas of focus, think about what resources you will need.  And ask for them. Could additional administrative help alleviate some stress? Do you need a new development professional? Is there a way to shift current under-utilized staff time to focus more on fundraising?

I know that budgets are tight and adding staff may not be high on your list of priorities. But you can’t raise more money without a plan on how to get there. Of course, it depends on how much you are hoping to raise. Trying to increase your numbers by $100,000 or more?  It may be time to increase your human resources. And know that the hire will more than pay for itself within a few years—even ten times over.

To quote another adage, “It takes money to raise money.” At least, that’s the adage as I remember it. 

Which is Easier? Getting a Teenager into College or Getting New Donors in December?

Getting into college or getting new donors?We are starting the college process with my 16-year-old twins. What is amazing when you look at the 3000+ colleges in the country is that there are 3,000+ colleges in the country. That means that if a child wants to go to college, there are plenty of options. And not every child wants to go to an Ivy League or an NCAA champion. In fact, there are thousands of other schools that are better matches for millions of students.

Stay with me here.

Your child will not, in all likelihood get into every school they apply to. The school will not get every student they want. And yet, 3,000 plus schools will have amazing freshmen classes starting each fall.

Just as a university only wants the students who want to be there, you only want the donors who want to give to your nonprofit. If they don’t feel connected students, and donors, will leave for a place with a better fit.

Getting New Donors

At this time of year, it feels as if everyone is talking about getting new donors. Whether they are focusing on end-of-year giving or strategizing for next year, the obvious path forward always seems to be about getting as many people as possible to write checks for any amount.

You may want to increase the number of donors in 2019, but you may not.  

I would suggest that instead of searching for 50 or 100 new donors to your organization, you consider deepening the relationships with the donors you already have. If you are anywhere near the average of 45.5% retention, you will have to find 50, 100 or more first time donors. But those new donors usually give lower amounts than long-term donors, so you will have to find 50, 100 or more first time donors each and every year to replace those you are losing.

You can raise more money if you focus on retention and increased giving. Unlike colleges, you will not have millions of people looking for new organizations to donate to. So, in all likelihood, if you are finding 50 new donors, they are coming from other nonprofits who did not engage them beyond the first gift.

So the real question about getting into college vs. getting new donors might not be which is easier, but which will help you find a better connection(s). Over time, you will raise more money, with less volatility, when you have stronger relationships with the people who want to give to you. You may never have millions of donors, but retaining hundreds of donors year after year will help you fulfill your mission. And that is the idea, after all.


* I suspect that this will be the first of many columns that will reference this fact. Why? When I learn, I like to share that learning. And so many skills learned outside of fundraising can be used inside of fundraising (e.g. timely thank yous, telling people you appreciate them, keeping in touch beyond when you are asking for something, etc). I hope it doesn’t give you PTSD or scare you. If it does, please let me know and we can talk about therapy sessions we offer. 


It’s Time for You to Evaluate Donor Retention For the Past Year