Putting the Joy Back into Fundraising for Your Nonprofit - Heller Consulting

Putting the Joy Back into Fundraising for Your Nonprofit

Fundraising might begin with the word “fun,” but not all fundraisers are having a good time – or more importantly, getting satisfaction from their jobs. In the report, A National Study of Staffing Challenges in Nonprofit Fundraising by DickersonBakker:

  • Sixty-three percent of nonprofit leaders surveyed said they experience some level of staff turnover in their fundraising department within the last two to three years
  • On average, more than one in four (26%) fundraising professionals have been in their current roles for 18 months or less
  • Nearly one in three (31%) fundraising professionals indicated their tenure in their most previous position was less than 36 months

As a former fundraiser myself, I’ve read multiple studies and have seen firsthand examples that show some of the reasons for high levels of turnover in fundraising include the pressure of unrealistic expectations (from executives, the board, and even the fundraisers themselves) as well as lack of investment in the right tools to help fundraisers work more efficiently. And as we enter the end-of-year fundraising period, the pressure on fundraisers grows more intense.

So, how can you relieve some of this pressure and help fundraisers accomplish more for your organization while feeling greater job satisfaction? Let’s look at three effective approaches.

Three ways to put the joy back into fundraising

Whether you’re a development director, an executive director, a board member, or other nonprofit leader, there are ways put the joy back into fundraising. Here are three ways to help the fundraisers at your organization move past challenges in their role and start feeling more of a sense of purpose and job satisfaction:

1. Manage donor relationships in a more organized way.

Nonprofit organizations often set high expectations to build relationships with a large number of donors. That can seem overwhelming to a fundraiser.

Just think: A development professional might be asked to build relationships with a portfolio of hundreds of donors. At the same time, to be effective, the fundraiser must build authentic, personal, and meaningful relationships with those donors – which is not realistic.

Viewing the target portfolio of donors all together can lead to a feeling of chaos and lack of accomplishment. A more manageable approach is to break down those hundreds of donors into smaller groups that can be cultivated and stewarded differently based on priority.

You can look to technology to help your development team manage donors in this more organized way. Start by looking at your existing fundraising or customer relationship management (CRM) software to see what capabilities exist, or are being rolled out, to help your fundraisers track and manage relationships with donors. These capabilities might include wealth scores, engagement scoring, and data analytics to identify common behaviors among groups of donors.

You might also look into new solutions that are available. For example, Salesforce recently announce the Nonprofit Cloud for Fundraising, which includes features to make it easier for fundraisers to manage their fundraising portfolios.

2. Work more efficiently.

Fundraisers tend to be the recipients of a seemingly endless stream of ideas, especially from executives and board members. I’ve seen this often take the form of suggestions about new software and apps to try.

In this case, fundraisers can end up with a mishmash of technology without a strategic technology plan to guide it. The result: A lot of time spent managing solutions that don’t work optimally.

A good way to combat this challenge is to take stock of where the development team spends their time. Often, they’re wasting valuable time on manual processes and technology workarounds that can be greatly improved by automating processes and consolidating technology.

If your nonprofit is in the market for new technology, evaluating where your development team spends its time can be especially helpful. It can help you to identify areas of greatest opportunity for process improvements and prioritize your list of technology requirements.

3. Be open to trying new things.

In fundraising, there can be a belief that you cannot make a single mistake in your work with donors. This ideal can lead to development professionals being afraid to try new things for fear of high-stakes consequences.

Of course, you want your development team to manage donor relationships with care. But if they are afraid to try something new and have it not turn out as successfully as they’d hoped, then they’re missing opportunities to find more efficient and impactful ways of connecting with donors. By developing a culture that encourages trying new tools and approaches, you can empower your fundraisers to find new, creative, and more effective ways to reach (and even exceed) their goals.

One way to mitigate risk around trying new things is to implement more sophisticated marketing and fundraising tools that allow users to easily pull reports and gain insights from data. These insights can help fundraisers to see how new approaches are (or are not) working, and then course correct if needed.

Another way to reduce risk around innovation is to invest in software training for your development team. The more knowledgeable your team is about the software they use, the more confident they will be in using it creatively to improve processes and accomplish more for the organization.

When it comes down to it, putting the joy back in fundraising is about providing a culture and technology foundation for fundraisers to work more efficiently and accomplish their goals more effectively.

Discover more about the intersection of people and technology. Read Staying Ahead of the Curve: 2023 Digital Transformation Trends for Nonprofits

Learn more

Contact us today to learn about how Heller Consulting’s technology strategy and implementation services can help your entire organization work more efficiently and effectively.

About the Author

Paige Deegan
Paige brings more than 16 years of nonprofit development and communications experience to the Heller team. Whether serving as a team leader, gift officer, annual fund manager, grant writer or vaunted one-person shop, she has worked in a variety of... Read More

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