Each January, scores of development leaders take stock of where they are and where they need to go. This is good practice. Many will be delighted by their results. Others, disappointed in their progress, will begin to panic about their ability to meet their goals. Given the ever increasing expectations fundraisers face, it’s not surprising that panic can set in.
Feeling overwhelmed, the inclination can sometimes be to look around for a magic bullet, that one perfect glittering THING that we can do to meet our goals and keep our organization in the black. In our zeal, we search the internet for some inspiration. There, we find all sorts of ideas, recommendations and solutions. This is when we need to ignore the urge to believe everything we read.
Not every idea is a good one and not every fundraising “innovation” is legitimate. In fact, I would argue that any advice that has you feeling like your are somehow not “in the know” should be met with skepticism, especially if you have any sort of experience in fundraising.
Don’t get me wrong. Innovation is vital to progress and looking at old problems in new ways is a great way to find solutions. The trick is balancing innovation with something that is not all that sexy……tried and true best practices, and knowing the difference between “must-have” and “nice-to-have” initiatives.
So before you buy that shimmering, golden solution, ask yourself these questions:
Do you know who your best prospects are? Are you developing relationships with them in ways that have relevance and meaning for THEM? Are you articulating a strong case for support? Are you working with your donors in an organized, systematic way? And most importantly, can you measure the effectiveness of your programs and activities?
If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, it’s time to put that shiny new approach back on the shelf and focus on the basics.