How to Establish Disciplined Fundraising Operations

A common challenge in Fundraising is institutions are requiring more results and an increase in productivity using the fundraising infrastructure that is currently in place.

With more development teams being asked to raise more in order to fulfill the mission of their organizations it is imperative that fundraising operations that supports them be prepared. You need to have the proper plans in place to meet these challenging goals.

These demands come quickly and sometimes without warning not allowing much time for input from the people having to meet these challenges. Having said that, we know that it still falls upon the fundraising teams to meet these goals.

Fundraising Operations are being asked to do more with less; meaning expanding fundraising methods  and programs without additional resources in staffing, upgrades in technology, etc.

In order to meet these lofty goals, you have to ask yourself, do I have the people with the skills, discipline, and commitment to make the leap.

You may be familiar with the phrase, “There are two types of pain in this world. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret.”

In order to avoid the pain of regret you have to endure the pain of discipline in many key areas of your fundraising cycle.

A few of the things you should look at to be prepared are:

• Data Integrity

Constantly monitor your data. Put measures in place so you can insure that your systems are loaded with accurate and consistent data. This will make your efforts more productive by having your team focusing on correct information that is up to date and reliable. A simple mistake in data input can lead to a major challenge later. A mistake in data input can mean your donor is categorized incorrectly or the information that is important to the donor may have been left out leading to an embarrassing and uncomfortable situation.

• Systematic identification of prospects

Put systems in place to quickly and accurately identify the best prospects for your institution. Having fundraisers spend substantial energy doing their own prospecting or spending time cultivating the wrong prospects is an inefficient usage of a skilled resource. Establish a systemic approach that is repeatable and routinely evaluated for desired results.

• Fundraiser Portfolio Review

Front line fundraisers have a huge job. They are expected to qualify, cultivate, solicit, and steward the assigned prospects in their portfolios. It is also important to establish specific times to review those portfolios. A good rule of thumb is to have routine monthly reviews with your manager and quarterly reviews with key team members (prospect research, other fundraisers, management) to gain further insights and insure progress.

• Stewardship

It is important to realize you cannot steward a company or corporation but only a person. Fundraisers need to establish an authenticate interest in the impact donors are trying to make. Are you able to communicate and document that the gift was used based on the donor’s request? Are you sharing impactful  information to keep them engaged in what is going on at your institution? Are you getting them involved by asking for suggestions or some other way instead of just asking them to open their wallet?

• Staffing

Just as you do with your fundraising portfolio, you should also review your staffing on a periodic basis. Take a look at your staff and assess their productivity. Are you using your staff effectively? Do you have the right people in the right positions or do you need to make some adjustments to their duties and responsibilities? Are you maximizing their individual talents? If you are not in a position to add additional staff, then evaluate the talent you have and insure that the workload is being distributed so each person has the best opportunity to succeed and meet the goals.

Continuous improvements in each of these areas can prepare you for those times you are asked to ramp up your fundraising efforts.

Take time now to look at the key areas in your fundraising cycle. Also, do not hesitate to engage outside resources during these assessments. The insights from a fresh pair of eyes can be invaluable.

Leave a message on our contact page or call us at 424-206-5379 to speak with an expert.


Mario HoustonMario Houston leverages over 20 years in business development and consulting experience to help front line fundraisers and management leverage their CRM technology platforms to meet or exceed fundraising goals. Mario specializes in prospect management, pipeline expansion, and fundraising performance metrics. Front line fundraisers quickly gravitate to Mario as a trusted advisor because he has first hand experience of their day-to-day struggles and offers strategies for getting breakthrough results.

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