Ever wonder as to what is the best course to take with your fundraising strategy? Let’s say that you have been given a challenge match by a donor or you have a fundraising goal that the Board has given to you to raise.
The question becomes not how can you meet that goal but whether or not you can realistically do so?
Most individuals are inclined to start with determining the best way to ask for gifts. However, I recommend that you take one step back and evaluate the feasibility of even reaching the goal that has been established.
Here are the steps that I recommend when you have been presented with a goal that you have not created.
The gift range chart will illustrate to you and others the number of donors needed and at what giving levels. It is a good tool to provide some scientific fundraising rationalism.
Compile a list of your most reasonable prospects who you know may have an interest in the cause or project. If you do not have a large enough list, it is time to “treasure map” all those who you think may have an interest and add to that list.
Once all of the lists are compiled into one, then you need to do either an electronic or manual screening. If you have access to an electronic screening tool, this is the time to screen this list for “publicly-held” capacity. If you do not have an electronic screening tool, then you will need to resort to a manual screening by doing prospect research on your own.
You may also want to do a “Rating and Ranking” session so that you can see beyond capacity indicators to the actual affinity and interests of the prospect list that has now just been rated for capacity. Capacity is only one component of a healthy fundraising campaign equation. You also need an affinity for the cause and interest. Knowing both will truly allow you to project your giving much better than just having one or the other indicator.
Now that you have done the research, you can then match up the screening results with the gift range chart. I highly recommend for special fundraising campaigns that the ask amount for a person with past giving history is no larger than ten times the last annual gift. If they do not have a prior giving history, then I would recommend looking at the range between minimum and maximum ask amount.
With this data matched up, you can now see whether or not you actually have the number of donors and/or the number of prospects needed.
From this estimation, you can now make more realistic decisions on whether or not you have the internal capacity to proceed ahead with the fundraising campaign, or instead need to stop and regroup to determine if the goal needs to be adjusted or other plans need to be made. Perhaps you need to identify more prospects to reach the goal and, if so, approximately how many? Perhaps the goal is just too lofty and needs to be adjusted.
The key element is to think beyond just the “how” of your fundraising efforts. You must start with the basic question, “Is it even feasible, given the capacity and interest of our donor and prospective donor base?”.
Ultimately, using this strategy will lead you to far greater success than not.