It’s that time of year — time to (once again) resolve to give up all our bad habits and become the person our mothers always knew we could be. But stick with me — this isn’t another one of those “eat less, exercise more, and soon you’ll be getting modeling contracts” columns.
Instead, to end the year, I have two resolutions to suggest to fundraisers. Read them over and then modify them to meet your needs and capacity once you return to work after the holiday.
Resolution No. 1: Make story time a priority
Just like we did in kindergarten, we adults like stories. And pictures make the story even better. They help us visualize the need and the good things your nonprofit is doing. In 2012, resolve to get the stories and photos that put faces and names (even if they are changed for privacy reasons) to the facts of your work.
Instead of recycling the same photos from a decade ago (you know who you are), keep a digital camera with a high number of megapixels (10.2 or better, if possible) handy, and then use it. Digital cameras make it inexpensive to take photos, so shoot lots of them. So what if you take 100 and only one is good? That’s one more resource for telling your story.
And speaking of stories, start writing them down. The good, the bad, the average — your creative staff or consultants can make the decision about what’s worth using. Give them options; they are bound to find a “winner.” Share the great, heartstring-tugging stories about your nonprofit with fundraising staff and writers. With stories and photos, your nonprofit will come alive to donors in 2012.
Resolution No. 2: Take a chance on something new
We’re not all back on Easy Street, but 2011 was a better year for many nonprofits. So it’s time to diversify. Really. We have all been cautious the last few years, knowing that layoffs and cutbacks were lurking in the shadows. But in 2012, give some thought to something new you can introduce to your fundraising mix.
I’m not advocating doing anything crazy, but what’s something that makes sense for your donor base that you aren’t doing yet?
I wrote an article some time ago about taking risks wisely; you can access it here. For those of you who want the abbreviated version: First defend any new idea with a short, written summary of the concept, potential audience, budget, timeline to implement and expected outcomes. If you can’t adequately defend it, it’s probably not the risk you want to take right now.
Secondly, limit your new strategies to one at a time so you can manage and measure. Next, when an idea fails, give it up; keeping it on life support seldom changes the outcome. Finally, evaluate every innovation — even when one fails, there may be successful portions that can be turned into a winning program.
You know your donor file, and you have statistics to show what works with them. I never advocate giving up what works to chase after the newest, shiny fundraising program. But add something new and see if you can attract a new demographic of donors, increase average gift, improve annual donor value, reactivate lapsed donors — or whatever will make 2012 an even better year of fundraising for your nonprofit.
Enjoy your New Year and remember: There should always be “fun” in FUNdraising. I hope you are enjoying this challenging career as much as I am.
Originally published in NonProfit Pro.