13 Tips for the New Year 2013

by Sherri W. Morr

As we approach (just hours away here in California) 2013 I am planning to turn my attention to small nonprofits this year. They often slave away with little time for thinking, planning, or having the time to implement new fundraising tactics. People who work/operate in one person offices should have others sing their praises and must offer them as much support as possible. To that end what follows are some tips and suggestions for 2013 which I think will especially appeal to those in small nonprofits. These ideas reflect my work as a coach, and as a project manager; they also represent experiences by someone such as me who is a freelance consultant to a myriad of nonprofits. The piece is also a reminder to be thankful to those who toll alone for causes worthwhile and noble.

Prioritize – the key word for 2013

Your work plans, your donors, your writings and think time, for every day by focusing on the important not the urgent.

Create a list of your top 12 donors (major donors according to your organization) and devise specific written cultivation plans for them.

Spend at least 2 hours each day on the phone with donors: telling them something new about the organization, thanking them, asking them their advice, arranging meetings, confirming appointments, and telling them about a specific article, essay, or posting about the organization or its members. This could be part of your cultivation plan for specific donors, or conversation for dedicated giving level donors.

Meet donors outside the organization office – at least 5 to 7 donors a week.

Write something every day – it could be a post, or a piece for an email alert, or a plan for an event, or a LOI for a grant application.

Spend an hour a day looking for new prospects, i.e. by reading, (the newspaper, magazines, and periodicals pertinent to your mission) by watching the news, by identifying people (this is done by being out and about) who have capacity and interest. Consider connections to be the most useful tool in your organization. Know the business/professions of the board and top donors.

Listen! Even when you are not paying attention, listen.

Take a lunch break.

Write an annual Fundraising plan; use it as a fluid guide as to how you will run your campaign.

Develop your fundraising goals not by adding 10 % to last year’s goal, but by focusing how many donors at what money level will be solicited … that’s how you configure your goal. Then break down HOW the donations will be closed: personal solicitations, mail, phone, events, and sales.

Fundraising organizations need to think as entrepreneurs, therefore thinking what my organization has that is able to be used, and make money that gets added to the annual goal… Is there a space that can be rented out for meetings, workshops, or events? Is there a way to do an event that has virtually no expenses, but is able to capture donors (perhaps new) and raise money? Consider the One Hour Ask.

Use your organization (within reason) to pay it forward. If your organization is an arts organization, find a performance to offer free tickets, or free snacks at intermission. If you are at a school, find a way to bring children from low income neighborhoods to use your library. It’s a great marketing opportunity and a way to do well. This is a great opportunity for sponsorships.

Consider your work as one that is noble and self-fulfilling but also educates others to important society needs and social issues. Be proud!

Sherri W. Morr has spent the last several decades working and consulting in the Jewish community as a fundraiser, a teacher, and trainer, most recently as Director of the Western U.S. at the Jewish National Fund for 12 years. She has completed an MA and received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Her work outside of the Jewish world at independent schools, the Baltimore Symphony and Tufts University have given her an awareness beyond practice in the Jewish community. Sherri has 3 grown sons and lives in Los Angeles, California.