New Year’s resolutions that could hinder your nonprofit’s fundraising


In the last twenty years, I have seen many New Year’s resolutions drafted by nonprofit leaders — some were achieved and others were forgotten. As you plan for the future, here are a few resolutions to avoid, as they could do serious harm to your organization’s mission:

  1. This year, we’ll rely on our staff. Managing volunteers is just too messy. At first, it may seem wise to leave the fulfillment of your mission to trained professionals. It is a challenge to manage and retain good volunteers. However, volunteers serve a critical role in your organization. They are ambassadors of goodwill to your constituents and their day-to-day conversations spread the word about your work. Volunteerism is critical to every nonprofit’s success.
  2. Our donors are tired. In 2017, we won’t bother them. While donor fatigue is a real phenomenon, your financial supporters still need to hear about your good work. If you stop communicating with them, you will fall off their radar. If you don’t ask them to renew an annual gift, you’re sending the message that their previous gift wasn’t important. While you may not be launching an exciting new fundraising effort this year, take the opportunity stay in touch via personal visits, mail, phone and social media outlets. Doing so on a regular basis ensures your donor base remains in the know about your mission and efforts.
  3. Let’s launch a major fundraising effort. I have a hunch people will respond this year. Periodically engaging in a capital campaign is a healthy exercise for nonprofits, but doing so on instinct or a hunch is a dangerous game. Instead, conduct a formal campaign planning study to ensure that your vision for the organization aligns with the vision of your donors. Only when you have data in front of you can you be certain of success. Hiring an outside organization to conduct the planning study means an unbiased third party will be able to check your organization’s blind spots and offer counsel.
  4. There’s no need to seek outside assistance in 2017. If you’re thinking of launching a major fundraising effort, take a long, hard look at your staff. Most nonprofit employees are overworked as it is. Will a capital campaign, which is a time of high stress and incredible workload, be successful if the duties are shared among your existing employees? Partnering with a firm such as the Steier Group will give you peace of mind, knowing that you have an experienced team focused solely on making your campaign a success. A campaign is a high-stakes endeavor, and a professional campaign manager will give you the greatest chance of success.

As the Steier Group looks forward to celebrating our 20th year in 2017, our team of 60 development professionals is ready to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Contact us to see how we can help you plan your next major fundraising effort.

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