The other day, a fundraiser I work with was sharing that she's great at prospecting and bringing new donors on board. At the same time, she's been struggling to upgrade donors. Her existing portfolio of donors has stayed relatively flat with slight upticks here and there.
I was also impressed that she refused to use the pandemic as an excuse for her performance in this area. She acknowledged that one of the positives of this difficult moment is that she's seen increased interest in her nonprofit. With this in mind, we took a deeper dive into her daily habits and where there might be possibilities for change.
My client shared how she structures her day. She diligently starts by creating a call list for prospective donors and hits those calls first. This fundraiser follows this up by doing research and identifying even more prospects for the next day. After this, she spends time connecting with the clients, volunteers and staff that are part of the programs at her organization. This fuels her fire for their mission and realization of the vision. She wraps up the day by connecting with existing donors on cultivation calls.
Sounds like a pretty solid plan, right? Personally, as someone who loves and thrives on the prospecting process, I was impressed. Yet, when we took a look at her larger goal - to create a culture of giving at her organization, bring in more funds for increased impact through BOTH increased giving and new giving, we realized something was off. As happens in the best coaching sessions, my client had a key recognition: She was putting donor cultivation at the bottom of her priority list - looking back at the daily structure, that became obvious. It's often glaringly clear what priorities are when looking at how a day is spent.
The solution: We're honestly not sure yet. BUT, the new practice she's trying for the next two weeks is that she's turning her day upside down! She's going to reverse things and see what happens if she starts her day with a focus on existing donors and the potential for them to increase their giving. After this she'll move onto prospecting. Ultimately, she's living out the age old point that it's much easier, efficient and effective to keep and grow the customers (or donors in this case) we already have.
As I noted above, we're not sure if this is the complete solution to my client's challenge. But it is a starting point for change and the creation of something new. That's what I love about the work I get to do with nonprofit leaders: Being a witness to courage and creativity every day.