How To Improve Fundraising For A Nonprofit Organization – Part 3: Executing Your PlanIn part 2 of this series I walked through the steps to creating your fundraising Game Plan. If you missed it, you can find it here >>

Now that you have your game plan in place the next phase is to begin executing it. Simple, right? No – no, it is not simple. If it were, then filing drawers wouldn’t be full of strategic funding plans that are just gathering dust. The obstacles to executing development plans are many and varied. Let’s take a look at seven stumbling blocks to your success, and discuss a solution for overcoming each one.

  1. No Plan to Follow the Plan. Just because you have a plan, doesn’t mean you have any real intention to follow it. Unless you specifically outline exactly how you’ll execute the plan, you’re very likely to keep doing things exactly as you have been in the past.

    The Solution: As soon as you’ve completed outlining your plan for success, write out the steps that will be needed to see the plan through. Post these steps somewhere where you’ll see them every day.

  2. Change Averse. A new plan necessitates change. Change is usually accompanied by risk. For those who don’t like change, or the risk that comes with it, that can be both a bit scary and frustrating. Like getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning, change also makes for varying degrees of discomfort.

    The Solution: Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of change, focus on the benefits – to your fundraising efforts and to the ministry. Benefits usually outweigh the risk associated with change. Make a list of each of the benefits that will result from these changes. Post them and get others to celebrate with you when a change has been enacted.

  3. Poor Systems & Procedures. Well scripted fundraising plans come with a lot of detailed tasks that must be accomplished. If you don’t have a good system for tracking and scheduling fundraising tasks you’re very likely going to drop a lot of balls.

    The Solution: If you have a CRM program, use it. If you don’t have one – either buy one, or at least use a program like Outlook to schedule tasks that must be done. Get a daily planner or calendar and begin writing in deadlines. Begin running reports on a monthly and quarterly basis and post them. Craft a Results Form for each donor, or task, and then begin recording activities. Share these reports with your supervisor, or coworkers. Make sure everyone on the team is using the same forms and reports.

  4. Fear. What’s your fundraising fear? Calling people on the phone? In-person asks? Large dollar asks? Rejection? Soliciting donors with a certain status, education or income? No matter what makes your palms sweaty, or weak in the knees, you will never realize the successful outcome of your strategic fundraising plan until you learn to deal with that fear.

    The Solution: This is such a big, and complex issue that I wrote an entire blog on how to overcome fear. Check it out here >>

  5. No Commitment. Sometimes that comes from no ownership in the plan. If you didn’t author it, you might feel that you’re either not responsible for the outcome, or that it’s someone else’s issue to deal with. You might also have little belief in the prescriptions of the fundraising plan. Either way, you do not honor God, or your ministry by shirking responsibility.

    The Solution: If you’re struggling with the validity or efficacy of the plan, then deal with it head on. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor, or the plan’s author and get to the bottom of your concerns. Until your take ownership, you won’t see it through to successful end.

  6. Unwilling to Do the Difficult Tasks. We’re all creatures of habit. And by habit, we will tend to avoid the difficult tasks before us. We move quickly toward those tasks we like, are familiar with or feel more competent in handling. Effective strategic fundraising plans invariably include a number of needed tasks that you will find difficult, or even uncomfortable. Which is likely why those tasks were not being done in the first place.

    The Solution: It’s like that old adage…if you don’t like spinach, make yourself eat it first, and eat what you like afterward. Same with unpleasant tasks – put them at the top of your “To Do List”, or mark them as more urgent or important. Then don’t move on to the easier tasks until you’ve accomplished at least a portion of the difficult ones.

  7. Lack of Accountability. It may be that no one is holding you accountable for completing the outlined tasks in your fundraising plan. Perhaps you stuck the plan in a filing cabinet and there it sits – unseen and unfulfilled. When there’s nothing on the line, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to do work that goes unnoticed, or unchecked.

    The Solution: Who loses if the plan goes unfulfilled? You do, and the ministry does. Realize that even if no one at the organization holds you accountable, God does. He put you in this position and expects you to steward it as if you were doing it for him, personally. Set up your own accountability partner. Someone you can trust and be transparent with.

Have you dealt with your roadblock(s)? Good! Now, carefully outline a plan to carry out all the recommendations of your fundraising plan.

  • Calendarize weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks.
  • Build phone calls, visits and even thank-you notes into your electronic or paper planner.
  • Set completion dates and write them on a calendar.
  • Set specific accomplishment goals and share them with a coworker who can help keep you accountable.
  • Schedule a monthly or quarterly review with your supervisor, or a coworker to provide outside encouragement, accountability and perspective.
  • Build in little celebrations for reaching certain milestones or time-sensitive tasks.
  • Use the applications available to you to help you schedule and fulfill the tasks you need to do. (Don’t have an app for that? There are plenty you can put on your PC, phone or tablet. Get them and begin using them.)
  • Hire a fundraising coach to help you hone your skills, learn best practices and help keep you accountable.

I would be honored to speak with you about the coaching services we offer. Please schedule a free coaching call to start the conversation >>