The 12-Step Program for Breathing New Life into Your Fundraising Efforts

The 12-Step Program for Breathing New Life into Your Fundraising Efforts

It’s Day 98 of a 100-day fundraising campaign. The target is $80,000.

On Friday at 5 pm, staff member Linda tidies up her desk, switches her phone to voicemail, and waves goodbye to her colleagues as she heads toward the exit door.

The 6 staff who remain exchange glances before turning back to their work. They’re staying for the last push.

For whatever reason, Linda doesn’t get the Mission. She either doesn’t know the ground rules, forgot them, or ignored them.

In this particular shop, not everyone is onboard. Some people are only looking out for themselves.

This isn’t a Linda problem.

It’s a leadership problem – and bigger than that, it’s a culture problem.

And it’s up to the Executive Director to see it, tell the truth about it, and shift it.

Here’s what that looks like in real life…

Step 1: Get behind it… or move on.

Be honest. Are you still firmly behind the Mission? If not, go find one you love. Unless you deeply care about the Mission, you won’t ever find the money for it.

Step 2: Rearrange their molecules.

EVERYONE in the organization raises money. Not just the Fundraiser. It’s not an expectation. It’s a culture inside the shop. It’s how we do things here.

Step 3: Make the core principles known and understood.

“When we’re pursuing a fundraising target, it’s all hands on deck. We need you. And more importantly, the Mission needs you.”

Step 4: Keep the conversation alive in your shop.

You can’t say it once and think it’s gonna stick. You’ve got to keep the Mission and the fundraising target alive for everyone. You’ve got to live it.

Step 5: Ditch “the right way to get money” narrative.

In fundraising, these things do not exist: good money, bad money, right way, or wrong way. There is only doing the work to raise money, or avoiding the work of raising money.

Step 6: Stop expecting to be trained.

There’s no training manual for raising money. You don’t need training. You need courage, optimism, and willingness.

Step 7: Change the recipe permanently.

Most nonprofits throw together (literally) a fundraising campaign, and the ingredients are 90% hope and 10% effort. That never works. Flip those numbers around. Give it 90% effort and 10% hope. Make it a core principle in your shop.

Step 8: Vet the ideas and direct the timetable.

Stop saying yes to unproven and nonsensical ideas put forward by The Disruptor in the Boardroom. Stop saying yes to a 6-day turnaround.

Fundraising campaigns that make money are planned at least 6 months in advance. There is a full strategy lined up.

Everyone in the shop knows about it, and gets behind it.

Step 9: Tune in!

Money is everywhere. Train yourself, your staff, and your Board to tune into it. Opportunity is all around everyone, every day. Open your eyes, your ears, your mouth… and your heart.

Step 10: Tell the story.

Your coffers aren’t empty because nobody wants to give.

They’re empty because you, your staff, and your Board stopped telling the story.

Tell the story as many times as you can in the hours you have, and lead everyone around you to do the same.

If you want to see it, you’ve got to be it.

Step 11: Establish and communicate the milestones.

You don’t check in on a campaign a week before it’s finished.

You check in on it every 7 days.

You tell the truth about what’s happening. To yourself, and to everyone.

Step 12: When it’s done, do The Huddle and The Cuddle.

The Huddle: What did we learn? What should we stop doing? How do we grow it?

The Cuddle: What did we do well? What can we acknowledge about each person’s contribution to this launch?

There you have it. 12 steps to rehabilitate your shop for fundraising wins this year. Get after it!