Insights for fundraising this fall and beyond
By Pat Danahey Janin, Genevieve G. Shaker, & Sarah K. Nathan
As many friends of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy know, Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (first published in 1991) has become a bedrock text full of solid, practical advice for fundraisers and philanthropic practitioners. The 5th edition, released last spring, is no exception. The editorial team has rounded up some insights from the book to help jump-start your fundraising this fall.
- Be empowered through self-reflection and rejuvenation. Make it a regular practice to recharge by revisiting your personal mission connection and your unique contributions to the organization, while also finding ways to keep growing and learning as a professional. Organizational leaders can lend their support through regular recognition, affirmation, and budgeting for professional development.
- Keep an eye on community alignment. Pay attention to whether and how current community and beneficiary needs are shaping the fundraising case for support. Do beneficiaries have opportunities to provide input and are they represented in respectful and meaningful ways? Make changes accordingly.
- Plan, plan, plan. Then work the plan! Fall is a great time for organizations to plan and budget for next year. Think ahead about what’s needed in the next twelve months. The fundraising team should be part of the organization’s overall planning process to ensure the fundraising lines up with strategic efforts.
- Keep doors of communication open within your organization and don’t get siloed. Be a bridge builder among departments. This will enable you to understand evolving organizational needs and respond, while developing key internal relationships to facilitate your work.
- Monitor ongoing innovations in the field—after all technology never rests. Keep updated with new tools and strategies to resolve problems, take opportunities, and stop your fundraising from becoming stale.
- Pay attention to the external environment. Use data and research to inform your approach and be on the lookout for relevant resources. Don’t be afraid to change strategies. Experiment and use what you discover to adapt your approach.
- Expand your knowledge about philanthropy in diverse communities. There are more resources than ever to learn about the preferences and priorities of diverse donors. Reflect on how your organization integrates and attends to donors of all backgrounds. Consider how creating a welcoming environment for volunteers contributes to inclusive fundraising.
- Consider donors’ many motivations for giving. As you connect with donors, you may find some have evolved in their priorities and are ready for new conversations. Provide meaningful ways donors can experience your organization’s mission and impact.
- Cultivate long-term relationships with institutional funders, including foundations and businesses. If your work is local, look locally. If your reach is national, look locally and nationally. Conduct research, link aligned interests, build relationships, and persevere. Incorporate attention to donor advised funds (DAFs) and their providers within your fundraising activities.
- Keep inviting gifts! Remember that almost all donations come after a request of some kind. These last few years remind us that donors give even in challenging times. Continue telling stories of impact and proudly provide donors opportunities to contribute to your important cause.