Importance of getting the basics right

Just finished listening to the latest podcast from Fundraising is Beautiful entitled Back from the brink: How a sick organization got better. It is over twenty-six minutes, but the first ten is worth it.

In discussing how he addressed the dreaded death spiral of an ineffective fundraising strategy, Chris Doyle, President and CEO of American Leprosy Missions revealed that the problem was their disregard for the fundraising basics.

By “fundraising basics” of of course am referring to the donor cycle. In the interview Doyle states that, for his organization,”the donor cycle was neglected. […] It was money and people passing through rather than a comprehensive donor plan which included the cultivation of these donor and retention of these donors.”

Don’t marginalize the importance of stewardship and cultivation.

In my experience Doyle is right on target about how organizations behave as they realize they are in a death spiral. “When organizations get into crisis… they run around looking for the silver bullet that’s going to solve all the problems rather than just stopping, stepping back and assessing ‘what are we doing wrong here and how do we fix that?’ rather than looking for some new idea or something that is going to fix things.” I have seen this trend more times than I care as organizations respond to decreased donor interest and support.

It’s not the economy, it’s how you treat donors that invest their philanthropy in your organization. If things are looking bad, focus on the mission. If your fund raising efforts don’t connect directly to the mission, they aren’t sustainable.

About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler, CFRE, ACFRE has a keen interest in understanding the connection between culture and the practice of philanthropy. His experiences working with international nonprofit organizations, extensive international travel, together with his graduate work at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and leadership roles with local nonprofits combine to produce his expertise in this area. He’s also a big baseball fan.

Mohler is the Assistant Vice President for Major and Planned Gifts at Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to his current role, he held key roles with The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Advanced Certified Fundraising Professional (ACFRE), and serves AFP at an international level, including his current role chairing the publishing committee for the AFP Fund Development Series.

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