In our weekly column, consultants with decades of nonprofit experience answer your questions about fundraising, boards, strategy and more. To ask a question and be featured (anonymously!) in the column, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s question will be answered by Don Souhrada.
My organization is now nearly halfway through our fiscal year and we’re not on a path toward achieving our mid-year annual fund goal. I’m feeling overwhelmed, and frankly, a bit paralyzed. How can I get back on track before it’s too late?
First, relax. It’s not too late. Your organization is on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year and you know that many gifts—and some large gifts—will arrive in December and probably even on December 31.
To help you focus your energies where they can make the best impact let’s start with why you feel anxious about your progress to date. Look to the data, be honest with yourself about the situation, and try to really identify if you have a problem and, if you do, how best to fix it.
Did you start the fiscal year with a well-thought-out plan to reach your goal?
Assuming your fundraising goal is realistic, I hope you started the year knowing how many gifts and at what levels you will need to acquire to reach your goal. If you created a gift table based on previous years’ giving to determine the number of gifts and at what levels it will take to reach your goal, you’ll know that it will likely require several leadership gifts.
Chart out your gifts from the previous fiscal year by range and compare to your organization’s actual YTD for the current fiscal year. The following example is actual YTD production for an area non-profit with a goal to increase their production to $225,000 from last year’s total of nearly $185,000. This example shows what gifts they need to acquire just to meet the FY16 production. You can see they have a long way to go to meet last year before increasing to $225,000.
This exercise will clearly show you where your efforts are falling short. Now’s the time to be honest about your organization’s solicitation performance. What’s changed year-over-year that would account for the shortfall? Are staff and volunteers failing to solicit in person? Or was there a breakdown in email, mail or phone solicitation? If your numbers are off dramatically, knowing which donors are not renewing should help you to identify the root of the problem. Then you can decide the best strategies to secure the gifts needed to reach the goal.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to donors who you are counting on, but typically wait until the last minute to give. If you take the opportunity to reach out to those donors, thank them for their consistent support, and confirm that they will indeed make their gift by December 31, you will reinforce to them that your organization values their support. And the confirmation you hope to receive will help you to relax and enjoy the holidays.