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Who Do They Trust?

There is a lot to dislike about politics and the political process.  However, there are parts of the process that can be a useful guide for effective fundraising.

The political candidates are the consummate fundraisers.  They must appeal to the super wealthy and the average citizen.  They know that a few dollars from many people is just as important as one large check from a wealthy individual.  They know what is important to the masses.  They know that to gain support they must be perceived as loyal, friendly, and empathetic.  They know how hard it is to be perceived as honest, candid, and sincere.  Their advisors are constantly reminding the candidates to stay on point.  The candidates know the sustainability of the campaign depends on the effectiveness of the fundraising, which depends on all of those other factors.

Your nonprofit has been around for a while.  It is early in the year but you probably have an understanding of how the fundraising year is going to end.  If you expect to have a surplus at the end of the year, it is a good indication that your fundraising is more effective than most.  If this is another in a series of years with a surplus, that is an even better indication that your fundraising is effective.  It is also an indication that your nonprofit has increasing sustainability.  Congratulations!

If this is going to be a year of fundraising challenges, it may be time check your execution of the fundamentals against how the politicians are doing:

Are you putting as much effort into cultivating the average donor as your high value donors?

Do your stakeholders and your community feel your message is important to them?

Would all of your stakeholders say your nonprofit was loyal to them, friendly, and empathetic to their needs?

Are your nonprofit’s words (marketing messages, fundraising messages, board decisions, and other forms of communication) perceived as consistent, honest, candid, and sincere?

Are all of your communications mission and client centric (on point)?

The politicians receive immediate feedback.  The press analyzes every word and publicizes every flaw and inconsistency.  Their opponents do the same.  The politicians know the answer to each of the preceding questions and discuss the trends every day.  They are also constantly fine-tuning the process.

How often does your nonprofit solicit feedback?

How often does your team discuss the feedback?

How often does your team make adjustments based upon the feedback?

Even if you have a highly sustainable funding stream, it is probably a good time to invite some stakeholders to join your fundraising team as advisors.  While it would be nice for your new advisors to help cultivate donors, plan events, and write grants, it is more important for them to act as advisors.  Having them as part of the team can help to ensure you receive pre-release feedback on any message and help you survey your stakeholders to determine how the message was perceived after it was sent.

Next Step:

Review the effectiveness of your process (the first group of five questions)

Solicit feedback from your stakeholders

Make adjustments based on the feedback

Use data and trends to measure the effectiveness of your adjustments

During an election year, your nonprofit is competing with the political parties for funds in addition to competing with the other nonprofits in your area.

It is a good time to sharpen your skills and hone your fundraising process for the benefit of your clients and the long-term sustainability of your mission.

Take It Future:

Ask your board to solicit feedback from your community about your communications

Use your nonprofit’s ability to exceed your annual fundraising goal as a measure of the effectiveness of your communications in all forms

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