7 Things Successful Fundraisers Are Doing To Maximize Revenue That You’re Probably Not

successful fundraising

When fundraisers know how to spend their time and only give attention to tasks that advance their efforts, amazing things will happen. Revenue flows into the mission, inspiring donors engagement. Your fundraisers are happy and stay with your organization for many years, which allows them to create deeper connections with donors. Doesn’t that sound dreamy? Well, it is! Here’s our top seven observations on successful fundraisers across the country.

Successful fundraisers start their day the right way

One of the worst things that a fundraiser can do is immediately start their day with three back-to-back, internal meetings. This will not inspire anyone to get focused on fundraising. Try getting to work and calling three donors to thank them for supporting the organization. This could be donors in your portfolio or just three recent donors who could use a thank you call. Make this your morning ritual because these calls will most likely turn out to be the best part of your day. Additionally, it will set you up to focus on fundraising from the get go!

Successful fundraisers put fundraising above all else

Fundraisers are often charged with efforts that don’t affect their revenue results. If you ask your fundraisers to do things outside of fundraising, it will hurt their ability to raise funds. You can’t expect them to meet goals when you’ve split their focus on items that eat up the time that should be spent fundraising. We’ve seen fundraisers in charge of managing the front desk personnel, planning and executing events that are not cultivation, stewardship, or revenue-generating events, and/or hosting tours for peer organizations (not prospects or donors). Stand strong and protect your time! Try to trim all of the efforts that do not result in identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship.

Successful fundraisers opt out of meetings that do not have to do with fundraising

Your time is the most precious commodity. If you are attending meetings that have nothing to do with fundraising, we urge you to opt out. This time should be held for donors. When fundraising and/or donor strategy are not on the agenda, it is not a meeting you should attend. For example, when you’re working on an upcoming capital campaign, and you want to talk through prospects with your ED, that’s time well-suited for fundraising. However, you do not need to attend every meeting with the architects who are designing your new building or space. Ask for the minutes of those meetings and spend your time on fundraising.

Successful fundraisers pursue the right prospects

Nobody wants to chase whales that have no affinity for the organization. For instance, you may want to pursue wealthiest person in your city, but if they don’t care about your mission, there are better people to pursue. Successful fundraisers are qualifying prospects and only pursuing those with capacity and affinity. If they are turned down for a meeting or do not get a callback, they release that prospect and quickly turn their sights to a prospect that wants to engage and learn more. Most importantly, don’t waste your precious time on prospects that aren’t showing interest.

Successful fundraisers use analytics to inform their work

Your fundraising database should provide you with all the information necessary to understand your philanthropic landscape. First, which donors increasing or decreasing each year? Secondly, how long does it take for a donor to get to the major gift threshold? Lastly, what donor groups should we be reaching out to? These are insights that successful fundraisers use to strategically use their time for the biggest return on investment.

Successful fundraisers have a plan

A well-thought plan is a game-changer in fundraising. As a result, you can think about what efforts will be most successful and how you will spend the next year on fundraising. It also allows you to easily say “no” when a board member, colleague, or donors asks you to do something outside of your plan, like add another event.

Successful fundraisers love the mission

Mission burnout is real. Sometimes we become so entrenched in the mission that it no longer serves us. When you are feeling exhausted because of mission fatigue, spend some time reflecting on what would energize you. If those things are at your current organization, great! If they aren’t, it might be time for a change.

About Mary Hackett

Mary is a fundraiser & operations strategist who specialized in helping development offices create deep, meaningful experiences for their donors.


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