1 Final Fundraising Resolution for Procrastinators: Save Money

My last few articles have looked at resolutions for 2014 that can help your fundraising program (and you as a fundraiser) accomplish more. Each resolution came from a list I found online of typical resolutions that people make each year. These included get fit, get organized and volunteer.

In case you need one more resolution, haven’t made any yet or have simply given up already on the aforementioned resolutions, here’s one last one for the New Year: Save money.

You may be thinking that this is the last thing most nonprofits need to be encouraged to do. Squeezing every penny until it bleeds may seem like the company exercise program. But there are places where money can be saved without giving fundraisers fits. For example:

Don’t chase after every new thing
Yes, it’s fun to be on the cutting edge. No one (not even this old dog) wants to be accused of being behind the times. However, some new things are fun — but not profitable. The challenge is, of course, figuring out which ones will stick around and net more dollars and which will be in the “remember this flop of 2014?” list next Dec. 31.

I have no secret formula for predicting the winners (sorry). But I do caution you to move more slowly this year when choosing new activities in which to invest your limited funds. There are simply too many new tools to be able to make each one a “winner” for your nonprofit. Even if it means limiting where you have a presence, strive for quality (frequent blog postings, regular updates, sharing really great photos that capture the results of your nonprofit, etc.) rather than just having a halfhearted presence everywhere.

Don’t keep doing things that aren’t working
While this seems like a “no, duh” statement, unfortunately, politics (yes, I will say that dirty word) can keep fundraising leaders from making the tough choices and ending an event, discontinuing a publication or cancelling a donor club. After all, this board member or employee or donor or volunteer really, really likes whatever it is.

But sometimes things need to be replaced. Take a look at the investment of time (which is money) or actual expense. Ask, “What would the reaction be if we discontinued this?” You’d be surprised; sometimes the only negative response comes from an internal person or two while donors just keep on giving even without whatever it is you’ve discontinued.

Save money by sending hardworking receipts
It’s not news to regular readers of my column; I think failing to receipt a donor who sends $25, even $10 or $15, is a mistake. If you have a hardworking receipt, there is no reason to save the $1 or so; the good will you create — and the potential for future giving — is too valuable to squander away by not mailing a receipt.

So what constitutes a hardworking receipt? First and foremost, it thanks the donor in a short note, using words like “generous,” “you” and “make a difference.” In other words, the donor receives (in a timely manner) affirmation that he or she made a smart decision by giving some hard-earned money to you. Secondly, it makes it easy to give another gift by including a bounceback reply form and a reply envelope. Don’t be ashamed to remind the donor that his or her gift “and your future generosity, as well” will have an ongoing impact.

And finally, a hardworking receipt makes the most of every cent of the First Class postage stamp by including inserts that give the donor an opportunity to send in a memorial gift, learn about remembering your nonprofit in his or her will, purchase an item if you sell mission-related products, read a few stories of success, or any number of other things that help deepen a donor’s connection to your organization. I’m not suggesting one insert that does all this; rather, have a series of inserts that you rotate to offer additional ways for a donor to get involved.

I truly believe that nonprofits have to raise money and save money to be most effective. But when it comes to saving money, make sure you are giving as much thought to where you should save as you do to where you should spend. This old dog has found Ben Franklin’s wisdom wise for fundraising, too: “If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”

Originally published in NonProfit Pro.

Author: PJBarden

With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans more than 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations. She specializes in writing fundraising copy, grant proposals, P.R. materials, instructional articles and blog entries, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy for her clients. Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE); an instructor for UCLA Extension School’s Fundraising Certification Program and the University of La Verne, College of Business and Public Management; a frequent webinar speaker; and author of two online courses for UCLA Extension. Pamela earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in 2015; her doctoral project (dissertation) was entitled “Nonprofit Organizations’ Awareness of and Preparation for Legislation, Regulation, and Increasing Scrutiny.” She is a past winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from DMA; recipient of a Distinguished Instructors Award from UCLA Extension; a weekly columnist for NonprofitPRO (formerly Fundraising Success); and a monthly contributor to Blackbaud’s blog, npEngage.

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