Have you ever looked back on some of your old work? It can be fun to reflect on those memories and special projects. It can also be a humbling experience.

I came across some work from over ten years ago and thought, “I wish I knew then what I know today.”

So what are some things I wish I knew earlier in my fundraising career?

Here they are:

1. How to build a development plan more efficiently to get to implementation faster.

Writing a development plan feels like a daunting challenge. And, it can be overwhelming to sort through all the opinions about how to create one.

Early in my career, I felt stuck. I’ve also written plans so detailed and thorough the process itself was consuming.

It was through trial and error that I developed a simple guide to build a plan. Because it’s simple, it allowed me to focus on what’s most important and get to implementation faster.

The good news is a development plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are the first two steps to get started:

  • Establish clear financial goals and metrics – One of the most important components of a plan is to know exactly what you’re aiming for.
  • Create goals and key tasks for “The Essential Five” : Board engagement, Major gifts, mid-level giving, key messages, and development operations.

If you’d like to learn more about our practical and effective development planning process, schedule a free strategy session.

2. How to communicate the importance of our mission, vision, and impact.

Like development plans, there are so many different definitions and opinions about mission and vision statements. It’s hard to know what to say about your organization.

Because of this, many struggle with how to talk about their organization in a succinct and engaging way. Try coming up with answers these questions in one or two sentences. AVOID JARGON AND VAGUE TERMS OR PHRASES.

  • What is the specific problem our organization is addressing?
  • Why should people care?
  • What are you doing to solve the problem?
  • Why role does charitable giving play?

3. Major gift strategies aren’t just for large institutions.

A key activity in building relationships with donors is having meaningful conversations without an ask in the room.

However, time goes by so fast and we have a lot on our plate as fundraisers. It’s too easy for months to go by without key loyal donors hearing from us.

The good news is nonprofits of all sizes can strategically build relationships with current and potential major donors.

It doesn’t have to be over-complicated. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Identify a small group of existing donors who already make large gifts (relative to the size of your donor base)
  • Make sure you have their information captured accurately in your donor software. Add any relevant info about their engagement and preferences.
  • Map out opportunities to personally engage them over the next six months without asking for a gift.

If you’re not already doing this, start with a small group you know you can manage. Once you build this habit, you’ll get better and become more efficient allowing you to expand the group to include more donors.

I hope you at least pick up one thing that will help you plan, communicate, or build relationships more effectively. 

You start using any of these strategies right away. All you have to do is schedule a FREE fundraising strategy session to get started. I’d love to help you put these into action for your organization.

Here’s the link again to schedule a FREE Fundraising Strategy Session.

As always, THANK YOU for reading. Have a great day!

All the best,

Kenny Sigler, CFRE