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 is Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). In this role, he oversees the KCTCS Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and the KCTCS Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs. With 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses, KCTCS is the Commonwealth’s largest postsecondary institution. He also serves as executive director of the KCTCS Foundation, Inc.

Mohler most recently served as assistant vice president for development at Eastern Kentucky University. His background also includes key advancement roles at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

He earned a master’s degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Cedarville University. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and has earned the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) credential. He currently serves on the ACFRE Board.

Mohler was named to Charlotte Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" in 2013 and the AFP Bluegrass Chapter honored him with their Exemplary Service Award in 2015.

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