Prioritize with Purpose
How to determine your best fundraising strategy
We get lots of questions from clients about how to prioritize all the different elements of their fundraising plan. While there are many schools of thoughts on how best to prioritize, we maintain that “priority” by definition means “ONE”. As a result, we always coach our clients to spend the majority of their time and effort focused on the strategy that:
Aligns with their values
Fuels joy and engagement
Provides funding for critical AND important resources
Builds healthy, sustainable funding for long-term sustainability
Most importantly, we remind our clients that building a healthy fundraising program begins with their own health.
Let's take a look at how each strategic component helps set the best fundraising priority for your team.
Find a strategy that aligns with your values.
Is your organization clear on what matters most?
How are you living those out in the work you do as a fundraiser? How are the values of your team and your organization reflected in your fundraising plan? Your past, your experiences, how you respond to different situations, how you navigate problems…all help you define and uncover your values.
While all plans are built around goals, a singular focus on accomplishment can lead to burn out. Aligning your values to your role as a fundraiser gives you the power and energy to say “yes” or “no” to strategies that reflect your values and the values of your organization.
The best fundraising fuels joy and engagement.
No matter how well you plan, life happens. We encourage our clients to consider every fundraising plan a draft, EXCEPT how you want fundraising to feel. Let that, and that alone, be the yellow lines on the road that guide you to the finish line.
That's why we start every new client meeting with the question: How do you want fundraising to feel?
If at any point fundraising starts to leave you, your colleagues, your clients, or your donors feeling drained, unhealthy, burnt-out, or chaotic….take a pause and ask why it has stopped fueling joy and engagement. Sometimes you’ve taken a wrong turn and you need to course correct; other times it’s because life required a detour and that road isn’t as smooth as the original.
Fundraising won’t always be easy or stress-free, but more often than not it should fuel inspiration, joy, and engagement for you and your community.
Prioritize immediate funding for critical & important resources
Let’s be honest, we all have to fundraise for things that are immediate or emergency. While building relationships is a long-game, nonprofit fundraising often requires us to raise money quickly and efficiently.
We utilize the categories of critical needs, important needs, and desirable needs to enable our clients to determine what priority they need to focus on in the short and long-term.
Needs that are critical and important often show up differently in our plan or require us to focus more immediately. These can be things like fundraising for a suddenly empty food shelf or an additional client-facing staff position. Something that is desirable could be pre-planning for a future capital campaign or determining how to replicate a program in another county.
As you determine your strategies to meet each need, remember to check them against your core values.
Build healthy, sustainable funding (aka relationships)
My favorite social media manager once told me that if you can only focus on one thing make it “engagement” because the rest will follow. Like any relationship in life (marriage, parenting, friendship), building a healthy relationship requires the ability to be present and engage.
When your fundraising strategy, and overall plan, aligns with your values and fuels joy and engagement, it supports your health as a fundraising professional and increases your capacity to be present with others - donors, clients, and colleagues.
Are you looking for a healthier way to put together your fundraising plan? We'd love to help! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your complimentary introductory call.