Prospect. Cultivate. Ask.

That’s the cycle. It’s simple, yet extremely complicated. It’s what non-profit fundraisers do. It’s the non-profit fundraising formula.

If your development office isn’t meeting its goals, ask yourself… in which of these three areas are you missing the mark? It’s easy to say things like, “we’re not meeting our goals because we’re not spending enough time on social media,” or “we aren’t raising more money because we haven’t launched that capital campaign yet.”

The truth is, the reason why a particular non-profit isn’t raising enough is that it is failing in one of these three key areas: it isn’t prospecting enough, it isn’t cultivating enough, it isn’t asking enough.

Notice that I didn’t say, “isn’t prospecting correctly, isn’t cultivating correctly, isn’t asking correctly.” I said, “isn’t prospecting / cultivating / asking enough.” While it is certainly true that many non-profits have trouble because they aren’t doing things the right way, the vast majority of charitable organizations that aren’t raising enough money to thrive are falling short because they aren’t doing these three things enough….

If you’re making lots of asks, seeking lots of prospects, doing lots of cultivation, you’ll figure it out. You’ll see that the way you are making asks isn’t working, and you’ll tweak your script. You’ll notice that the cultivation funnel you have laid out isn’t leading to conversions, so you’ll change. If you’re not doing enough asks, though, you’ll never, ever see the pattern. You’ll never know why that one ask per month isn’t panning out and resulting in a gift. If you’re doing one ask per day, though, the changes that you need to make will be hard to miss.

Prospect More!

Are you looking at lists? Asking for referrals? Building networks? How many networking meetings have you been to this past month (chamber of commerce, Rotary, poker club?) How many cold calls did you make? How many current donors have you asked for leads? How many other organizations have you shared lists with? Are you increasing your prospect list every day?

Cultivate More!

Are you calling prospects to chat? Are you having lunch with referrals? Are you sending out personalized letters to your list? How many newsletters have you sent out? How many “stay in touch” calls have you made? How many non-ask events did you hold this month? Are your donors engaged?

Ask More!

Are you afraid to make an ask? Do you feel good about making asks for your organization? Can you ask without fear? How many asks did you make this month? How many asks will you make next month? How many asks have your board members / supporters / donors / volunteers made this month?

Activity matters. It’s not the only thing, or the best thing, or the be-all-end-all thing. But as any successful non-profit pro will tell you, the more you prospect, the more great prospects you will find… the more you cultivate, the more great potential donors you will find… the more you ask, the more people will say yes, and the more money you will raise, and the more services your non-profit will be able to provide.

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