Move your fundraising beyond the insanity of the same-old, same-old

I gave up CNN or any other of the myriad news channels this past week. Not for Lent, but because the debacle unfolding in Washington, D.C. was simply too painful to watch. I’d like to think that the trauma of the last fiscal cliff experience would have knocked a little compromise (I stopped hoping for sense a long time ago) into our nation’s leaders.

But oh, no. There they went again, this time taking the nation with them over the edge. And here we are, all of us, clinging by our fingernails to the words of pundits who claim the fall won’t be so bad.

running in place

But wait. Before berating the dunderheads in D.C. for their foolishness, it behooves we fundraisers to take a hard look at ourselves.  Nonprofits, including those with a faith base, are dealing with fiscal challenges of their own, but you’d not know it looking at the methods and messages that continue to be trotted out.

I’d like to think that the trauma of an annual fundraising cliff-hanger would encourage organizational leaders to question the wisdom of pursuing the same fundraising strategies with the same donors in the same sequence, year after year. We know it’s craziness to expect different results from repeating last year’s not-so-successful strategies.

But here we go again, to our own detriment and that of our donors.


Think about it. Nothing saps enthusiasm for getting or giving like missing our fundraising goals again (and again and again).

Fortunately, as Thom Jeavons and I write in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, with intentionality and careful planning, it is possible to break free from the insanity of the same old, same old.

The strongest development efforts are those that flow from a comprehensive plan and reflect the best thinking of a cross sector of an organization’s stakeholders. It is important that leadership set out clearly and publicly what an organization is intended to accomplish over a specific period of time. This is just as true for faith-based organization’s as any others.

Just because funds have always been raised in a certain way doesn’t mean the program has to continue in that mode. When the organization has charted a course for its future, the fundraising team is far more likely to move ahead with courage and effectiveness than in situations where leadership fails to plan.

When we truly believe that God is enough, we find the courage to back away from long-pursued, but less than successful practices. To test new approaches. To say good-bye to a scarcity mindset and give abundance thinking a try.

Now if only the folks in Washington would get the message.

What's your take on this topic?

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