Enjoying the Raise.

Posted by: Shannon Schweigert
Category: Non-Profit, Uncategorized

Fundraising can be enjoyable. Here’s what we do at PACE to ensure that it is.

After spending the better part of a 30-year career as a fundraiser, I am often asked how I “cope” with the rejection that must certainly accompany the task. While many “no’s” are inherent to the occupation, I can honestly say I have never viewed that aspect as being prohibitive to actually enjoying the work.

Giving is a voluntary action. As such, “no” is going to be encountered. When I played college baseball, getting a hit one out of three times was considered great. (I never hit anywhere near .333 in college.) Fundraisers will tell you that in this industry going “1 for 7” is pretty good, maybe even great. So, how do we keep to the task at hand with so much rejection happening.

It wasn’t until my current business partner at PACE Fundraising, Michael Overby, joined my company GivingPoint in the early 2010’s that I realized the mission of any worthy fundraising campaign must include making the effort “enjoyable” for all: prospects, donors, volunteers, executives and governing boards. Michael is noted for saying, “Fundraising is never easy; but if done properly it can be enjoyable.”

At PACE Fundraising, we strive to make the effort enjoyable and do so by accepting the burden of organization, thus allowing volunteers, executives, and board members to exercise their influence with prospects without expecting undue time commitments. Our formula is simple, a good alpha results in a good omega. Proper strategic planning and simple, defined roles for volunteers engaged in campaign execution result in successful, winning campaigns:

Communications, Organization, and Momentum;

a simple formula to make a capital campaign,                                       

i.e. fundraising, enjoyable.

  • Communications, both internal and external, must be concise, accurate, and strategic. Volunteers must know from recruitment on what is expected of them. Prospects will understand the case for support when it is expressed in simple, easy to digest, progressive increments under multiple formats: for readers, for graph viewers, multi-media for non-readers, etc.
  • Organization is the responsibility of campaign counsel (PACE Fundraising). Volunteers have a finite amount of time to dedicate to the effort. Their influence among our prospects is more important than committing time to tasks that are better left to executives and campaign counsel. We keep volunteers focused on making their selected prospect calls. Capital campaigns mean executives are running con-current efforts along with their annual fund, events, etc. PACE recognizes this and accepts the responsibility of week-to-week communications with volunteers and tracking progress of the campaign while “in the field” actively cultivating campaign prospects.
  • Momentum is critical to winning a capital campaign. PACE designs its campaigns for early success by identifying the prospects most likely to give regardless of financial capacity. We do this for two reasons. Volunteers are new to the fundraising game. Early success is more likely to keep them engaged and on-task. Secondly, our prospect pools often include “fence-sitters.” Those prospects who “want to wait and see how this goes” before committing. Early success allows us to capture more “fence-sitter” dollars.

For more information on our services, or with questions regarding items contained in this article, you may contact me by email: shannon@pacefundraising.com