Three Ways to Move Your Fundraising Forward

By: Patricia Kern, CFRE, Kern + Associates

There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

For the past 20-plus (ok, 25-plus) years I have been in the non-profit sector. I’ve learned that most of the time those awesome individuals who have ‘fundraising’ in their job descriptions usually have the best instincts, the best listening skills and the best ideas about how to raise needed funds for their organizations.

However, they lack the time to listen to their instincts, act on the information they gathered, or implement their ideas.

I think the Great Gretzky may have the answer to some of the challenges we face in fundraising.

I skate to where the puck is going to be…

How do we know where to skate? Or in other words, where to fundraise? Who to ask?

The best fundraisers I have ever known are readers. They read the local newspapers. They read the business journals, regional magazines, and chamber newsletters to name a few. Why? They are studying. They read about the women and men in leadership in their community and they take note of their companies, their visions, and their plans. They read to anticipate alignment with mission and they take this insight and…

I skate…

Skate. AKA: Move. Do not sit at your desk. Get up and get out of the office. Make appointments with prospects and donors. Schedule coffee time, breakfast huddles, and lunch dates. I know one executive who schedules lunch meetings every day. He schedules them a month out and he has a contact list that is amazing. He is getting to know people of all walks of life and while listening to others, he also builds relationships to share his goals and dreams for his organization. Truth. While you may think there’s no way you could do that every day what if you tried to schedule one lunch meeting a week? It’s all about getting out and skating…

…Not where it has been…

Is there a fundraising pattern at your organization? What? That doesn’t make sense. You’ve likely heard that those that who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it, right? Becoming a student of fundraising means learning what the fundraising story was for your organization a year ago, two years ago or more. Are you raising more or less today? Can you determine why? (If yes, good job! You’re already a good student!) Better yet, do you have a written plan for how to raise more this year? Or next year? If you haven’t yet won it on paper, you don’t have a plan. There are loads of good reading resources on writing fundraising plans but a few of my favorites are:

  • www.GivingUSA.org – This is a resource rich in history and analysis of fundraising.
  • www.simonejoyaux.com – I heard Simone once and it changed my fundraising life. Centering your plans on the donor is essential to your fundraising plan.
  • www.donordreams.wordpress.com – My buddy Erik Anderson has a great blog. Plus he’s cool.

Listen to Gretzky, Fundraiser. You are Great, too.

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