Vol 9 • Issue 3 • Winter 2010
PAGE 13 FUNDRAISING
If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway
What are you most proud of in your current fundraising strategy? What works best? Take a close look at your most successful income streams and ask yourself what makes them tick so well. For instance, do you have a steadily growing membership programme, sustainable sources of earned income? How about your Christmas appeal, your annual gala event?
It’s easy to become somewhat complacent with what works best, allowing it to draw in a steady amount of income year in and year out. But this may be an excellent source of increasing your income, if you can develop and expand what is already working.
The annual Christmas appeal letter is always a hit? Who can you mail it to who isn’t already on your list? Can you link it with an on-line appeal, maybe with an inexpensive but tasteful video appeal?
Your annual gala is always a sell-out? How about changing the venue to double the number of seats available to sell? Can you attract a bigger celebrity to emcee the event this year?
Be creative. Think laterally. You’ll be amazed at how simply putting a bit more energy into existing successful approaches can contribute substantially to meeting your diversification targets.
No such thing as a bad idea
Idea generation is a purely right-brain activity. As you brainstorm new sources of funding, encourage your team to take chances. Create an environment in which no idea is criticised, and every contribution is valued. Sure, most of the ideas generated ‘in the room’ will never materialise, but the gems that really sparkle would never be discovered without digging in the mines.
Your rule should be ‘quantity, not quality.’ Try to make as long a list as possible of ideas from the simple to the outlandish, from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Okay. Some ideas are less good than others
Once you’ve generated a nice, meaty list of potential funding sources, now is the time to let the left side of your brain take over, and begin to evaluate the ideas. Some approaches might have merit in the future, but not right now. Some may require resources you don’t have. Some are too risky, some too small. Cross them out. Be brutal, because the ideas you do run with will require time and energy that you do not have in abundance, so they must be well worth the effort.
Make a list of the best ideas, evaluating them on three criteria:
1 Income potential 2Ease of implementation 3Sustainability
Now put in place a plan to explore the best of these ideas, including any investment of resources that may be necessary. At this stage you should have a very workable set of ideas - a range of new (or improved) income streams to fill the gap in your projected income over the three years. Of course, some of these
ideas will prove more viable, more profitable, than others, so a regular evaluation of the outcomes of each of your income streams is necessary. Continue to improve what is working best, and be prepared to jettison any approach that is not worth the expenditure of either capital or time (or both), and you will find your diversification strategy growing more streamlined, and more reliable, over time.
Deirdre Garvey is Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel. Visit www.wheel.ie/funding
for more free fundraising advice.
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