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Fundraising Bandwidth - the eternal challenge.

While approaching donors a couple of times a year (annual appeal, gala, online campaign) is not that difficult, how can we find the time to cultivate donors so that our relationship rises above the pattern of ask...then ask again...and repeat?

If we don't take the time to draw donors closer into the "what" and "why" of what we do, we perpetuate the pattern of quid pro quo giving (" I'll give to yours if you give to mine") or small, habitual gifts which never go up from year to year.

And while we welcome every contribution, we want to upgrade our donors and, furthermore, make them into real fans. Donor stewardship is key.

But how do we include donor cultivation in our already-packed schedules, when hosting a stand-alone cultivation event on top of everything else seems impossible to pull off?
Build On Your Programs

Consider showing off your work in action by inviting donors to events you're running for your programs. These can be as heartwarming as a Pre-K graduation, or as heart wrenching as a press conference to denounce strong-arm immigration tactics.

The common thread is that you build upon an existing investment of time and energy, by including donors as first-hand witnesses to your work and your impact. When donors attend what are normally "participant-only" events, they are more likely to feel they are an integral part of your agency's success.
Give People A Role

Better than simply asking donors to attend, give them a part in the day's activities. Might they hand each
 preschooler their congratulatory flower? Share a story of persevering along their own career path? Even stand alongside agency staff to show community involvement during a press event?

We all triage our time, daily, sliding from good intentions to the reality of our obligations. People RSVP yes and then don't show up; not from disregard, but rather an inability to align what they want to do with what time actually allows. They mean to go, but then their spouse wants them to run an errand, or a project at their job isn't going as smoothly as they'd assumed, and it's easiest to forego the obligation they feel won't really miss them.

People make these calculations all the time - sometimes even unconsciously - and the weakest personalcommitment falls to the wayside. You can influence their calculations by giving people responsibility for some visible portion of an event's success. They won't want to disappoint those 4-year-olds!

(BTW, this also holds true for attendance at board meetings. Give someone a critical role to play and they'll make sure to attend. But for board meetings that are mostly recitations of reports, people figure they won't really be missed...)
Use Your Natural Advantage

Every nonprofit is expert at something - the needs of kids in the foster care system, the readiness of communities for the next natural disaster - nonprofits leaders know the untold stories behind today's headlines.

Use this expertise to give donors an "insider perspective" on the issues of the day. Couple that press conference attendance with a luncheon afterwards - for 4-6 donors - at which an executive or program director parses the background and strategy that led to the successful press event. Especially nowadays, when news is fast-breaking and often distressing, learning what those in the know are doing to counter shifts in the political environment, is valuable currency.
Show Off What You've Got

In this day and age of decreased organizational bandwidth, reconceptualizing program activities to add a cultivation component can become a key element of donor stewardship.

It's time to take the wraps off our value to the world.  
Cause Effective is Hiring

We are opening a nationwide search for a senior associate - a full-time staff position focused on consulting, training and business development; as well as individuals who could serve as affiliated consultants on a per project basis.

We are searching for candidates with a history of committed fundraising, governance and/or special events experience, especially in communities of color, and are particularly interested in nonprofit consultants or staff who have focused on working with small to mid-sized nonprofits (job description).

Please help us identify the right people to help deepen and expand our impact as the "go-to" organization in New York City for resource development and governance assistance!
Cause Effective Can Help

We love to brainstorm how nonprofits can best communicate with their donors - contact us to think through what might work for your organization.

Judy Levine 
Executive Director  
Cause Effective Around Town
Webinar, board diversity survey, blog post...and more! 
Upcoming Webinar: Moving Your Board Beyond Events-Based Fundraising

When it comes to engaging board members in fundraising, special events are familiar territory. At their best, board members rally to find sponsors, sell tickets, and network like pros at the event itself. Afterwards, they may exhale and sit back for much of the year until gala time rolls around again.

But there is an alternative to this cycle. In this webinar, Gregory Cohen and Judy Levine from Cause Effective will share strategies on how to turn events into a launching point for your board members to recruit new supporters, deepen existing relationships, and get out and ask year-round.

Hosted by the Foundation Center
Thursday 7/20/17
2:00pm - 3:00pm EST

Register For This Webinar
Do NYC Boards Reflect the Diversity of Our City?

NYC Nonprofit Board Development Coalition is conducting a survey to understand how nonprofits think of diversity, equity, and inclusion on their board. The survey results will help inform a final report on board diversity strategies, gaps, and resources. Complete the SURVEY and receive a free copy of the report.
From Cause Effective's Blog:
The cost-per-dollar-raised is highest when recruiting new donors.

You have to find them, help them get to know you, build admiration and trust, and then ask.

To stir, shake, and repeat, it takes a lot less effort. 
But to extend this cocktail metaphor a bit more, it doesn't happen without the right ingredients (recognition, insider access, donor awareness of impact) being added in the right proportions - all year long. [more] 
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For 35 years, Cause Effective has strengthened the nonprofit sector by increasing the capacity of more than 5,000 nonprofits to build sustainable communities of supporters.  We provide carefully tailored counsel to help nonprofits diversify funding, raise more money from individuals, activate boards of directors, and get the greatest value from anniversaries and special events so they can achieve long-term, community-based change.

To learn more, please visit www.causeeffective.org.