Dreaming is not a strategy (but it’s a great first step)

What are your hopes and dreams? If you take a step back from the day-to-day and think about what your organization could – and should – be accomplishing, what does that look like? Who would be helped? How would that person’s life be changed?

Spend a few minutes thinking about that.

Now – how much would it cost to accomplish that? $50,000? $500,000? $5 million?

Don’t panic when you see that number – all I did was add a zero (or two).

But do you know how to get from where you are to where you want to be?

There are a few steps to take.

First is to assess where you’re at. What are your strengths? What are your opportunities? Where is the majority of your funding coming from now? Are there opportunities for growth in those areas? Are there other areas of funding that would make sense for your organization to expand in to?

Once you identify your areas of opportunity you can start to develop a plan. It’s okay to start general, but you want to get specific quickly. Don’t just think ‘we need to start approaching community leaders.’ Think about which five people you’re going to talk to first. Instead of thinking ‘we need more corporate support,’ think about which five executives from corporations you’ll talk to within the next two weeks.

Now, throw together some information. Don’t spend a whole bunch of time on this step – I’ve seen nonprofits stall for months because they’re waiting for everything to be perfect. In fact, it’s probably better in the first stages that your potential donors are seeing things in draft form – then they know they can provide some input and ideas before everything is final. Their input is a good thing – have you ever heard the saying that if you want advice you should ask for money – and if you want money you should ask for advice?

Start talking with people. Assess where the majority of the interest seems to be coming from. Do more of that (and less of the other things).

While you’re updating your plan, begin to fill in more details. A gift range chart is a great planning tool – it can help you determine both how many gifts you need and how many prospects you’ll need to meet your total goal.

Are you on track to reach your fundraising goals? Do you have goals? A plan? Or just hopes and dreams?

This is part of a series of posts to help you get a jump start (or restart) on your fundraising efforts. Keep an eye open for more blog posts. In the meantime, if you’re serious about turning things around for your organization, I encourage you to learn more about my new Fundraising Jump Start Home Study System.

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