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.