Written by Timothy M. Winkler, Sr., MA, CFRE, Principal, Founder, and CEO

As fundraisers, we are all feeling incredibly overwhelmed. Every day seems like a non-stop fire drill; all we can do is react to whatever situations unfold throughout the day. With so many distractions, it’s no wonder we ask ourselves, “What should I focus on first?”

Given the enormity of what’s happening in the world, it is understandable that you might not even know where to start. If this sounds a little too familiar, I have three suggestions to help your prioritize your fundraising. There is nothing magical here; instead, these suggestions are based on my experience raising money over the past three decades.

Annual Fund First

Start by focusing on your annual fund. On its surface, this might sound overly simplistic, but recurring giving is key to your success. Start by focusing on retention. Do everything you can right now to make sure you don’t lose donors.

Even if a donor gives less than they did last year, their support will make an exponential difference in the long run. On average, it costs $0.25 for every dollar raised to retain a donor. To reacquire that same donor once they have stopped giving to you, the cost per dollar raised exceeds $3.00.

Your original annual fund plan is going to need to change, and that is ok. Donors need and want to see that you are adapting to new realities. With many fiscal year-ends coming up in June, now is the time to start tweaking your plan. Segmentation based on giving amounts, along with personalization to even your smallest donors, will have a tremendous impact on your retention rates.

Your messaging will be the linchpin that holds your annual giving together. Don’t decide for your donors what they want to support. If you are not asking your donors for their support, there are plenty of other organizations that will. In your messaging, acknowledge the changing realities, but don’t apologize for your new realities either. Show them how you are helping solve problems and that by working together with you, they can be part of the solution.

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The generous will prosper: those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25)

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