Today, you’ll start to create do-able fundraising routines that will help you move forward meaningfully, effectively and in a way that feels great.
With just 25 (focused) minutes a day, you will start to achieve your fundraising goals. Stick with me - this post is a little longer than usual, but I promise it will be helpful.
Routines create habits that become second nature.
You’ve heard this, right? Routines become habits. Whether we’re talking about healthy eating, exercise or work, the longer you do something on a regular basis, the more it becomes second nature. If you want to set yourself up for long-term success, creating fundraising habits are a key factor to your continued growth and development.
Get out of the weeds and focus on the stars
Carving 25 minutes a day to work on actions that will elevate your fundraising helps you move away from the daily grind and focus on the big picture. You’ll never reach the stars if you don’t spend some time getting there, which is hard to do when you’re running from deadline to deadline or not sure where to even start.
Take control of your time and your fundraising, raise more money for the incredible work of your organization. Change the world.
When do you work best?
I love waking up at 5am to do my daily work routines while the house is quiet and my mind is fresh.
Crazy? Maybe for some people, but not for me.
The first thing I want you to do is to pick a time of day that you can consistently carve out 25 minutes.
If you’re like me and work best in the morning, find time either before going into the office or right when you arrive. Or maybe you work best at around lunch time when you’re fueling your brain with food and can pause for some reflection (that is, if you actually take a lunch break, which I’ve never seen happen at small nonprofits). Perhaps your happy time is just as the day is wrapping up.
Take a minute now to pick a time of day that you can commit to focusing your impact.
Now, mark it in your calendar. Block it off and do not book anything (unless it’s a donor meeting, in which case, you can move just about anything for a donor meeting).
This is your commitment to yourself. This is your time to take your fundraising to the next level. Hold that time sacred and keep it to do this important work.
Simple first step, right?
5 Minutes of Thank You Calls
You may have heard this before. You may have heard this from me before.
Thank you calls are effective at helping you keep donors and increase their giving. Research by Penelope Burke shows that donors who received a thank you call within 48 hours of their donation increased their subsequent gift by an average of 39%. And they are more likely to even have a subsequent gift.
It’s so simple. So effective.
But so FEW organizations do this.
Your excuses end here. The first part of your daily fundraising routine is to make thank you calls. Just 5 minutes, every day.
Tip: if you’re like me and carve out your 25 minutes at 5am, you *may* want to hold off calling your donors until a more reasonable hour.
10 minutes to connect with your donors
Are you stuck behind your desk?
Do you know you should be out there meeting face-to-face with donors, just to build a relationship or even to ask for support, but it doesn’t happen? Or, not as much as you’d like?
This next routine will get you out there, beyond your desk, beyond the walls of your organization and meeting with donors and potential donors.
This is critical for many reasons. Fundamentally, it helps you deepen relationships, leading to more commitment from your donors. Additionally, it gives you more insight about your donors, what they care about and why they give. This information can inform your fundraising strategy and tactics.
Chances are, you know that meeting donors face-to-face is good practice, but it’s just not getting done.
Here is what I want you to do in the next ten minutes of your routine to get you out the door.
1. Pick a goal for weekly face-to-face meetings
I want you to meet with at least one donor or potential donor a week. That’s if you’re wearing multiple hats in your organization and have diverse responsibilities. If you’re only job is fundraising, try setting a goal a little higher than that. Maybe 2 or 3. If you’re in a bigger organization and your only job is relationship-based fundraising, you should be meeting with 4 or 5 donors and potential donors a week.
2. Create a list
Create a list of donors and prospective donors you want to meet with. These can be individuals who have already given a “big” gift to your organization (tip – “big” should be self-defined for your organization, think of the top 20% of donors, whether that’s $500 or $5,000) or who give monthly, or who you think can make a “big” gift.
Update the list monthly or quarterly to keep it fresh.
3. Work through the list and ask for a meeting
One by one, work your way through the list, reaching out by phone or email requesting a meeting. Start by reaching out in the way that best makes sense for that donor. If they prefer phone, call them. If they’re better on email, do that. Nowadays you can even try LinkedIn or text. Here is a tip sheet on how to book a meeting.
Tip – suggest meeting at a time and place that’s most convenient to the donor.
Tip – there is a fundraising adage – ask for money get advice, ask for advice get money. This is SO true. Asking for feedback is a powerful tool in fundraising if you use it properly.
4. Follow up with those you haven’t heard from
Don’t forget to follow up with people if you don’t hear from them. Go back to anyone you’ve reached out to but haven’t booked and try reach out again. I usually follow up about a week after the first request and then every two to three weeks following that. Be persistent – we all lead busy lives and just because someone doesn’t respond right away, doesn’t mean they’re not interested or willing. How many emails do you have in your inbox that you keep meaning to reply to? Right?
Tip – try alternate ways of contacting your donor. If you emailed, next time try phone. If you phone, leave a message that you’ll be sending an email too. People have a preferred method of communicating, so play around until you figure it out.
Wondering what to do in a meeting once it’s booked?
Don’t worry – I’m not going to let you lose to these meetings without some guidance. I know that face-to-face meetings can be scary and intimidating, which is why so few people proactively book them. I’ve got you covered.
You can download a quick two-page tip sheet on face-to-face meetings with donors. What to talk about and some sample questions you can ask.
10 minutes of reaching for the stars
Now, it may not seem like a lot, but I want you to focus 10 minutes on doing the things that feel ambitious, or like a stretch for you. What’s been on the back burner for too long? Use these 10 minutes to move that forward, step by step.
It’s all too easy to focus on what’s right in front of us and when we work in small charities, we get so swamped it feels like we don’t even have time to breathe.
We grow and learn when we can take a bit of time to think beyond ourselves and what’s on our plates.
Small nonprofits have a bit of curse – it’s called inertia. It’s so easy to keep doing what you’re doing. Get your head out of the weeds and do something new!
Your 25-minute routine
Okay, you’re probably sitting down reading this thinking, “is that it?” or “that was easy, what about the asking, or major gifts, or, or, or…”
You’d be surprised by how simple most fundraising is, but how few people practice this daily. You still have to ask for gifts, but that can mean very different things for different organizations.
But before you ask, before you write an appeal, before you host an event, before you sit down and ask for a major gift, you need to get into the routine of doing these simple things, daily.
Easier said than done? You bet!
I know how busy life can get and how much things can get in the way of our best intentions. I want to make your success in fundraising INEVITABLE. Your success in fundraising isn’t dependent on Herculean sprints, but the compound effect of consistent, strategic action.
My last task for you
Working in the non-profit sector comes with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and often very little recognition. At the end of each week, take a minute to congratulate yourself!
You did it. You’re amazing. You’re a Rockstar.
I know we don’t hear these things nearly enough in our work, but it’s true. Thank you. Thank you for showing up, every day, to change the world.