Four fundraising scenarios. What would you do?

By Anita de Ruijter
On March 10, 2014 At 2:00 pm

Category : human resources, individuals, opinion, strategy

Responses : No Comments

Nothing sharpens your decision-making prowess quite like establishing a new fundraising operation, with the heart-thumping expectation of growing income quickly. Opportunities abound but how do you make the best of them? Anita de Ruijter outlines four scenarios. What would you do? Comments please!

which-way-do-I-go1. OK so you need to re-establish acquisition channels rather quickly. You know face to face is expensive with high attrition. Do you…

A. Look around for a face to face supplier and sign on the dotted line because you know the right agency will help you grow quickly…and then worry about diversification later.
B. Set up different channels other than face to face first because you believe the costs are lower and attrition better and you want to set off on the right foot.
C. Look to your own database, see what’s possible in terms of conversion first before spending large amounts of money elsewhere.
D. Try and get both all options running simultaneously without giving yourself a heart attack.

I chose A. Yes it’s got high attrition, yes it’s expensive and attrition needs to carefully managed – but this channel gets the volumes baby and with the right agency and internal management you can grow, innovate and and then focus on diversification.

2. You have a limited budget to build a new team. You believe there are four roles you need to recruit to be able to cover the most important fundraising functions. You have just enough budget to do it but you won’t get the experienced people you want. Do you…

A. Recruit all four roles with a view to training people up
B. Decide which roles are most important and pay for that and train up junior staff into the other roles.
C. Recruit three highly experienced people into the roles and then absorb other functions into the team (and take a more hands on approach in some areas than you had planned) with a view to building a case for an additional staff member in 12 months time once you have runs on the board.

I chose C. I felt with a start-up you need to hit the ground running and I wanted really experienced people in key roles. The other developments we can manage for the next 12 months because they complement my skill-set. Then I can build the case for more funding to get that last role in place.

3. You’re leaking supporters like a sieve and you know that stabilising the supporter base is really important. Do you….

A. Take a chill pill and look at the entire donor journey with a view to building a measured retention strategy.
B. Try to get a robust reactivation program up first
C. Launch a telemarketing upgrade program first
D. Sort out the donor care operation first
E. Try and do it all at once

Ok so I chose C which probably isn’t the obvious choice and I wish I had the luxury of A. I went for C because I wanted to combine upgrade with asking our supporters to give to general funds so we could be more flexible in how we develop our work going forward.

4. The board has never considered large scale investment into fundraising and when certain figures are mentioned, eyes start rapidly blinking. You need to present to the board in four months. Do you…

A. Wait until the acquisition manager is in place and then work together on a three year investment plan that outlines what investment and more importantly what income you believe you can achieve within five years.
B. Use recent test examples from the launch of face to face to build real life examples
C. Do your desk research to look at what others in the market are investing back into fundraising.
D. Explain how this investment can be funded by increasing your income available from general funds
E. All of the above.

Of course it’s going to have to be E and if anyone wants to share what’s worked for them then I am all ears, because that’s going to be critical to success.

Other key decisions are looming such as how are we going to re-position our brand and raise our brand awareness to help our program and fundraising objectives, and of course when can I legitimately take a holiday and plan a little lie-down later in the year.
There’s that great saying.. “life is lived looking forward but only understood looking back”. Here’s to forward thinking and rear view mirror reflection.

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Anita de Ruijter (3 blogs on 101fundraising)

Currently Fundraising and Communications Manager at Save the Children New Zealand, Anita de Ruijter worked previously as Retention and Development Manager at Greenpeace International, has been a fundraiser for 15 years, is a mother of two, drinker of wine and lover of food.


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