As nonprofits, we’re being constantly expected to do more with less and less. But there reaches a point at which you can’t be more efficient. You can’t reduce your expenses. You’ve trimmed and trimmed and something’s got to turn around. You’ve decided that it’s time to focus on growing your revenues
IT’S TIME TO KICK UP YOUR FUNDRAISING RESULTS.
So what do you do to increase your fundraising? You’ve got some well-meaning supporters, who are helpful in providing ideas. Suggestions abound. Maybe you’ve heard a few of these…
- “Let’s hold an event! I hear they make all kinds of money when you include an auction.”
- “You need to have a golf tournament”
- “You should write a grant!”
- “We should go talk to the businesses in our area”
- or “Hey! What about text-to-give and online campaigns?”
Your head spins with the possibilities.
When the options become overwhelming it’s time to don your floppy hat, pack a picnic lunch, grab your rod and reel, and hang out the ‘Gone Fishin’ sign. Yep, fundraising is like fishing and you can use the strategies from top anglers to land the fish you need.
Now, don’t jump into your hip waders just yet! First, you need to sort through some of those many possibilities that are spinning around. One way to calm the chaos is to think about which pond you want to fish in.
Here are some of the techniques we use at Mosaic to sort through all the possibilities and find the right match to quickly raise significant funds year after year.
All of the activities and fundraising techniques can be sorted very easily into only four ponds. Well, that makes it easier! After all is said and done, all contributions come from only four sources: Governments, Corporations, Foundations, and Individuals.
Before you cast your nets, you want to know how the ponds are stocked. Stories about the one that got away are entertaining, but won’t feed your cause. You want to give yourself the best chance of landing your big one, or bringing home an impressive string.
YOU NEED TO KNOW WHICH POND IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
- Governments – provide approximately 3% of contributed funds*
- Corporations – provide approximately 5% of contributed funds
- Foundations – provide approximately 12% of contributed funds
- Individuals – provide approximately 80% of contributed funds.
Every year GivingUSA measures contributions and over the several decades of measuring, these percentages have changed very little. Your ponds might swell or shrink a bit, but each has provided about the same percentage of fish year after year.
READY TO CATCH SOME FISH?
Before you set out on your fishing trip, you’ll want to consider a few things:
- Which pond are you fishing in now? Which source are your contributions coming from?
- What are you using for bait? How does your cause attract and interest funders?
- Who else is fishing in each of these ponds (hint: it’s not just other nonprofits!)? Who and what are you competing with to draw interest to your cause?
Now you’ve thought through your current fishing strategy and you have a good idea about what bait you’re using and whether it is attracting the fish in the pond you frequent. You’ve also got some ideas now on other kinds of bait that might attract more fish, or fish in a different pond. But it’s not time to pack your tackle box just yet!
At Mosaic, when we work with organizations to increase their fundraising we want to be sure that they reach their goals as quickly as possible. Which is why we’ve built Ask Masters to include special sessions and tools to help you assess what you are currently doing rather than recommending a one-size-fits-all fundraising process.
HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT FUNDRAISING FISHING EXPEDITION
Follow these three steps for fabulous fundraising fishing:
STEP 1 – PICK A PROFITABLE POND
Is your pond well-stocked or fished out?
Will you fish in the same ponds you’ve been angling or give a new fishin’ hole a try?
STEP 2 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT BAIT
One kind of bait does not attract all fish. Are you going for the “big fish” in your pond or will you cast your net for several pounds of smaller fry?
Corporate fish are attracted to only certain kinds of lures.
Foundation fish are enticed by an altogether different kind of bait.
Individual fish have the widest range of lures that appeal – which is great, ‘cause they also make up the biggest pond.
If you’re not sure what kind of bait will catch the fish in your pond, then ask! Find out how attractive what you are offering actually is to your prospects. You could spend hours perfecting your fly-tying only to find that your fish are partial to a juicy earthworm.
Packing the right bait in your tackle box will make all the difference!
It can be challenging to find your best fishin’ hole. It really depends on your fundraising goals and the time in which you need to reach them.
That’s why we have a module in Ask Masters specifically designed to get you super strategic about how to select your funding sources and get set up to raise the funds you need in the timeframe you need them.
STEP 3 – CAST YOUR LINES OR NETS WHERE AND WHEN THERE ARE LIKELY TO BE FISH
What kinds of fundraising activities would catch your kind of fish? Do your fish like to hang out in schools near the surface and play in the sunshine? Are they attracted to the cool depths and only surface once in a while?
When are your fish most hungry? Will you have better chances if you are fishing in the early hours or after a long, hot day?
Will you need to plan for an offshore trip to get you closer to your fish because they aren’t found this close to shore?
Get to know the topography of your pond and watch where and when others are fishing.
Now you’re ready to head out on your fishing expedition – you know which pond you’re heading to, you’ve got your bait selected to catch the kind of fish you need, and you know that you’ve increased your chances exponentially of making your big catch by understanding the habits of your fish.
So next time you’ve got to kick it up a notch in contributions for your cause, and you’re surrounded by possibilities, take a break! Pack your tackle box, make a picnic meal. It’s time to go fishin’!
COMING UP NEXT…
The next thing we’ll be talking about are four steps you can implement that keep you from spinning your fundraising wheels. You’ll know exactly where you need to focus your attention to raise funds fast.
If you’re already on the Ask Masters Fundraising Accelerator list, that article will be coming to your mailbox in a few days. And if not, why not jump on now? It’s free, and our aim is always to give you information that will help you reach your fundraising goals as quickly (and enjoyably) as possible.
Until next time,
Heidi Hancock, CFRE
Principal of Mosaic Non-Profit Development and creator of Ask Masters Fundraising
If you found this page but didn’t sign up, why not grab the whole series? Sign up to be sure you get all the parts of the Ask Master’s Fundraising Accelerator!