Study Gives “Calls to Action” to Strengthen Nonprofit Fundraising
Organizations continue to face many challenges in their nonprofit fundraising efforts. Donors are now more discerning about the causes they financially support and the explosion of social media has leveled the playing field leading to more competition for donor dollars adding another layer to already complex strategies. My recent coverage of Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising by Compass Point highlighted that many organizations are working with undeveloped leadership and in many cases no leadership at all leading to weaker communities of supporters and ultimately unfulfilled fundraising goals. This very same report also provided ten calls to action that nonprofits can use in an attempt to break the vicious cycle that they are facing. The following are 5 highlights that I thought would be excellent starting points:
- Organizational Culture – Only 12% of development directors felt that their organization had a culture of philanthropy. People must enjoy their jobs and part of that involves asking for money. If at the core of the team member’s beliefs is a dislike of performing this principle task then they are in direct conflict with the mission of the organization. Interestingly 14% of Development Directors and 18% of Executive Directors dislike asking for money. Those in leadership positions must change their own perceptions towards this key task. They have the power to shift the entire team’s perception towards fund development, as it should be at the core of each team member’s responsibility.
- Technological Innovation – The study also points to “continuous dialogue with stakeholders, [as] a central tenet of a culture of philanthropy”. As many new communication channels have emerged over the past few years it’s important that leaders continue to embrace technological innovations as a way to grow and engage their communities. From social media to digital marketing there are many creative and cost-effective ways to expand ones reach provided that directors believe in the initiatives and allocate the necessary resources to support them to ultimately further the organization’s mission.
- Setting Realistic Goals – Interestingly almost one third of responding development directors felt that they were given unrealistic goals and the study highlights that it’s important to include them as part of the goal setting process. Goals should not be simply set in financial terms but also include metrics such as “development and maintenance of the development department, cultivation and stewardship of relationships, staff and board relationship-building, and contribution to the vision, strategy and overall leadership of an organization.” In addition to fundraising revenue targets, goals really need to be all encompassing to have a better understanding of the progress that directors and their organizations are making.
- Share Accountability – Organizations are only as strong as their weakest team members. All levels of an organization need to be engaged and passionate about the cause and should feel a sense of responsibility towards fundraising goals and results. Expectations need to be very clearly set from the beginning and include assignment of fundraising activities to team members. To strengthen these expectations, regular performance evaluations must be conducted and compared to development goals and achievements.
- Fundraising Leadership – Identifying required changes should include personal professional development, building key team member’s management skills and establishing an action plan to make the transformation. Part of the plan must include creating a plan focused on increasing the organization’s capacity for fund development. The education of staff and team members is key to ensure that the culture of philanthropy is maintained and championed throughout the organization.
This Study of the Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising brought to light that strengthening fundraising results starts from the top of an organization as both executive directors and development directors must be role models to their teams. They must instill a strong culture of philanthropy while keeping fundraising goals at the heart of all activities.
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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery services, donation caging, donation processing and other donor management services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all contact centre services and mail house operations and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.