Jumpstart Your Fundraising in 2012!

• fundraising • fund development process • nonprofits • sustainable fund development • fund development plan • nonprofit
Ellen Bristol

Quick, the fundraising year's half over!  Well, not really, but before things get too crazy again for you professional fundraisers out there, think about adopting sustainable fund development practices.  If you do your fund developmet planning early, everything else falls into place.

Last blog, I talked about fundraising as 'art vs. science".  The science of fundraising produces sustainable fund development, where you can manage the development effort so that you bring in more and better results with the same or even fewer resources. And that  makes the art of fundraising possible.

So for those of you who grow faint at the sight of a test tube, remember that the 'science' we're talking about here is pretty simple - it's just the application of a few metrics.  In other words, you can't manage it (or improve it) if you can't measure it.  And isn't devLeaking Like A Sieve!elopment just brimming over with stuff you can measure?  Yes.  It is. 

To start with, in development, you can measure income.  Now income is considered a trailing indicator, which means that it shows up after the development process is complete.  And it's really easy to measure, so you'd think that everybody would keep track of it.  Surprisingly, results from our Leaky Bucket study-The Leaky Bucket for Nonprofits have shown that only a small proportion of the nonprofits studied so far - 38% - keep track of actual income as compared to income target, and an even smaller portion - 29% - measure income per funding category against target. (The Leaky Bucket study is still open, so if you want to score your own development office, just click here.)

To make matters worse, if you only measure trailing indicators, like income, you miss out on other measurable things that can tell you beforehand whether you're wasting time and/or solving the same problem over and over again.  That's why I like to encourage people to put milestones into their opportunity pipelines that can be used as "leading" indicators, stuff like "you got your first appointment with the donor prospect" and "the donor prospect agreed to accept your recommendation."  

Instituting sustainable fund development practices isn't really too difficult, especially if you set up metrics that describe results and not activities.  When you do so, it gets easier to report  on progress, whether you're reporting to yourself, the VP of Development, the CEO or the board.  I'll talk about this whole sustainable fund development thing often this year.

Ddon't forget to read my newest e-book, De-Mystifying Fundraising: Seven Steps to Fundraising Success!  It will give you lots of insights into setting up a sustainable fund development office.

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