The 4 Questions You Need to Ask to See if Your Fundraising is On the Right Track

If you’re wondering whether or not your fundraising is headed in the right direction, I’ve got news for you: healthy development programs require a lot more than just steadily increasing revenue.  Sure, raising more this year than last year is important, but to be certain that your growth is sustainable, you need more.

In working with hundreds of non-profit organizations, I have come up with four simple questions that I can ask to immediately find out whether or not a fundraising program is on the right track for steady, rapid growth… and where the organization needs some work.  Take a minute to answer these four questions for your non-profit to see how strong your development program is:

Question #1: When is Your Next Newsletter Coming Out, and Who is Responsible for It?

Do you know when your organization’s next newsletter is coming out (either e-mail or snail mail?)  If not, would you know where to look up the answer?  Do you know who is responsible for getting the newsletter out the door?  (If your organization doesn’t use newsletters, replace “newsletter” with “fundraising letter”).

Planning is a key trait of successful non-profits.  Good fundraising plans require deadlines and responsibilities – meaning that for every goal, there are deadlines when certain actions will be accomplished, and it is clear who will be responsible for each action.  How strong is your non-profit’s fundraising plan?

Question #2: What is Your Donor Retention Rate?

Do you know what your organization’s donor retention rate is?  (Donor retention rate is a measure of how many of last year’s donors gave again this year).

Donor movement is a fundamental discipline of strong non-profits.  You must have a plan for moving your donors through the fundraising funnel, and you have to know where each donor stands and how successful you are at moving donors through the funnel.

If you don’t know your current donor retention rate, it is highly likely that you are not moving donors through the funnel efficiently or tracking them effectively.

Question #3: Why Should Donors Give to Your Organization – Today?

Quick!  In 30 seconds or less, can you give a great explanation of why donors should care about your organization and make a donation today?

Your non-profit’s case for support is a key foundation for successfully raising more money each and every year.  If you don’t have a strong and compelling case statement, or if you and your team aren’t grounded enough in that case statement to be able to give a short, compelling reason to give at a moment’s notice, chances are that your fundraising will suffer.

Question #4: How Many of Your Current Donors Came through Referrals?

Did you know that the single best source of new prospects for your fundraising program is referrals from current donors, board members, volunteers and other supporters?

What percentage of your current donor base came through referrals from other donors?  If you don’t know the answer to this question, it is probably because your non-profit isn’t focused on referrals or doesn’t have a referral system in place.

Focusing on referrals can significantly increase your donor pipeline and will help your organization dramatically increase fundraising revenue.

Take some time to answer the four questions above.  If there are some questions you don’t know the answer to, or some answers that you think could be better, don’t fret – these four questions are a starting point for better fundraising.  Once you answer them, you’ll know where you need to focus your energies in the year to come.

Photo Credit: Nelo Hotsuma


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