Is your fundraising working? Is something going wrong? Do you know why? It’s time to find out.
Fundraising is all about building and maintaining a relationship with your community. And, like any relationship, it’s a two-way street – it’s as much about offering as it is about asking for something.
A fundraising strategy reminds us to stay on track, and to keep the relationship healthy and productive for both your organisation and your supporters. Here’s why you need to make time to regularly review your strategy:
- Things change
From the political climate you’re operating in, to a sudden staffing adjustment, things are constantly shifting and changing – and they can change fast. Not-for-profits need flexibility – and funds – to be nimble and adapt to the challenges and opportunities they face.
Having a regular review of your fundraising strategy means that you’re prompted to address any new issues from a fundraising perspective.
When there’s so much to do just to keep your programs running, strategy sometimes falls by the wayside. But unless you regularly evaluate what you’re doing to raise funds and keep your organisation going, small issues can become bigger and bigger. Take the time to put out spot fires as and when they arise.
- Something isn’t working
We’d all love it if fundraising worked spectacularly well all of the time. But we know this isn’t the reality. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s up to fundraisers to figure out why. This is probably the most important – and most obvious – reason to have a system in place for reviewing your strategy.
You need a review to figure out why it isn’t working, and a plan of attack to fix the problem. This is also an excellent opportunity to review your data – is it a one-off problem? Do you need to test your assumptions? Does your data contain hints about how to improve? It’s important to build data-driven questions into your regular reviews to make sure you’re assessing the same questions over time. That way you can take a long view of trends, both positive and negative.
- Something is working
On the other hand, something might be working extremely well – and you want to know why.
A strategy reminds us to ask the key questions – why is this working well? How long has it been working? Can I make it work even better? Are there any trends I need to pay attention to? Is this an approach that I can transfer to another aspect of our fundraising? Do I have any hints that it might not work this well forever, or even for very much longer?
In busy organisations, if something is going well, we often simply thank our lucky stars and keep going. In the mercurial world of fundraising, while you want to stick with a good thing, you also need to stay ahead of the curve by assessing and reviewing the approach that’s currently working.
- It’s an opportunity to assess your vulnerability
For not-for-profits, even a tiny shift in fundraising revenue can have huge impacts on projects, staffing, or even the organisation’s overall viability.
What would happen if something changed that had an impact on your fundraising? Do you know what your weaknesses would be? How would you adapt?A fundraising strategy is essential to knowing where you are, where you need to be, and how you’ll get there. Clever fundraisers use reviews to imagine alternative scenarios and ensure their organisations are as prepared as possible, whatever happens.
By Emma Jukić – Emma is a freelance writer and policy specialist with experience working for government, not-for-profits and arts organisations.