November 22, 2017
Hope for the Best, Plan for Contingencies
Airline passengers hear the pre-flight safety briefing so often, it can become background noise along with the sound of engines and air vents. If we knew an emergency situation was on the horizon, we would listen up, but we are counting on everything going as planned.
Fundraisers can be similarly optimist: “Our current donors will keep giving regularly.” “We won’t have another economic downturn anytime soon.” “No unexpected financial crisis is in our organization’s future.” “We’re good.”
While remaining optimistic, revisit the basics from time to time:
Keep your seatbelt fastened at all times in case of unexpected turbulence.
Endowments and cash reserves aren’t for pessimists. They’re for realists. If you have a building, you need an endowment. If you have staff or vendors who like to get paid, you need a buffer between revenue and expenses. It doesn’t always occur, but turbulence happens.
Note the location of your nearest exit, understanding that it may be behind you.
Don’t assume your loyal donors will always be there. Donor relationships must be maintained and enriched through ongoing communication, accountability, and demonstrations of appreciation. Be alert to the signs if a donor grows distant. If you need to walk back and say, “We’re sorry” or “Thank you” in a more compelling well, do it.
Always place on your own air mask before helping those around you.
A nonprofit cannot run on good intentions for long. Constituents will not be well served if an organization ignores its own financial well being. Before launching a new program—no matter how great it sounds—assess your current capacity: “Are we satisfied with our current outcomes?” “Can we financially sustain a new program?” “Do we have the staff to pull it off?”
When it comes to your nonprofit’s future, stay optimistic. Hope for the best, but plan for contingencies.
Join Us on the Growing Philanthropy Tour
Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook’s mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:
February 7-9, 2018
Great Fundraising Masterclass
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- Reality Fundraising – Ideas, insights and lessons learned through hundreds of best practices from nonprofit professionals nationwide by Bob Hartsook
- Fundraising Leadership – The definitive source for empowering board members to become pro-active fundraising leaders by Karin L. Cox
- Getting Your Ducks in a Row – A tool box of strategies for effective campaign fundraising by Bob Hartsook
- Million Dollar Gifts – Real-life stories of million-dollar gifts that will amaze and inspire your fundraising by Bob Hartsook
- Closing that Gift – “29 secrets” to closing a gift and avoiding the top 10 solicitation mistakes by Bob Hartsook
- Performance-Driven Fundraising – Handy, yet entertaining reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers by Matthew J. Beem
- Nobody Wants to Give Money Away! – Stories, humor and more than two decades of fundraising experience in which Bob explores the nine fundraising truths essential to success by Bob Hartsook
- On The Money! – An enlightening collection of success stories and lessons learned from nonprofit fundraising campaigns nationwide by Bob Hartsook
- $231 Billion Raised and Counting – by Bob Hartsook, Matthew J. Beem, Karin Cox and over a dozen Hartsook consultants and clients. Hartsook shares stories and “Strategies for Success” that will educate and inspire
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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].