Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Column Every Monday--"The Fundraising Guru"--September 10, 2007

Go Around the Fundraising Clock
by Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein

Successful fundraising is cyclical. Your current effort starts where your last one ended. Think of the hands of a clock. Your fundraising cycle should go through four stages and 12 steps, beginning and ending at 12.
Phase 1--Research
Step 1 (12:00-1:00): Review analyses of all your organization’s previous fundraising efforts. Were the dollars raised worth the time, energy, and money you spent? If you’re starting something new, try to find out the effort-result ratio of a project similar to yours.
Step 2 (1:00-2:00): Research what products and programs the people you serve or want to serve need for the foreseeable future. Ask potential donors to what extent they would support them. Avoid preconceived notions and yesterday’s truisms. Look for fresh answers to the question, What will “sell” in the short-run and long-run?
Step 3 (2:00-3:00): If you have a project in place, be merciless in light of what you learn in Steps 1 and 2. Consider modifying or scrapping existing efforts or proposing new ones. Don’t change just to change, but don’t be stuck in the past.
Phase 2-Strategy
Step 4 (3:00-4:00): Based upon your Phase 1 Research, compare the kind of program you want to pursue with funders’ priorities. Do they agree? Are you willing to make any modifications? How flexible are you willing to be—or can you be?
Step 5 (4:00-5:00): Develop your program proposal.
Step 6 (5:00-6:00): Identify the people who you think can help you reach potential funders. Determine those who are most willing to support your efforts and get them to commit to how they will assist you. Draft your proposal materials. Get accurate contact information for possible donors—street and e-mail addresses, phone and fax numbers. Plan your public relations strategy—the media outlets you will use to create awareness of your efforts.
Phase 3—Implementation
Step 7 (6:00-7:00): Share the draft of your proposal with key supporters and reconfirm how they will help you.
Step 8 (7:00-8:00): Produce your proposal. Make it appropriate to the scope of your project—as brief as one page or as elaborate as a printed brochure.
Step 9 (8:00-9:00): Let it roll! Get your proposal to funders. Schedule person-to-person solicitations with potential major donors. Release publicity about your effort, updating it as contributions are made.
Phase 4—Evaluation
Step 10 (9:00-10:00): Collect data. For example, find out why prospects didn’t contribute or give as much as they could have. Did those who promised to introduce you to potential donors really open doors?
Step 11 (10:00-11:00): Analyze your data. What you have learned to improve each of the 12 steps of your fundraising cycle in the future?
Sept 12: Write a concise analysis of your latest fundraising cycle, even if only you and a few others will see it. You will benefit from looking at how well you’ve done in black-and-white. Your fundraising cycle is complete only when you have “closed the circle.” Then, you can apply what you’ve learned at the start of your next Phase 1, Step 1 (12 to 1 o’clock).
Follow the 12 steps of the fundraising clock. Hit the jackpot.
Send your comments and questions to Stephen Goldstein at He is the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and the host and executive producer of "Fundraising Success," a weekly one-hour program broadcast by WXEL/National Public Radio and available on the Internet from anywhere in the world at any time at

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