Fundraising Q/A: How can we raise money faster?

Faster isn’t always better, especially when it comes to soliciting major gifts. But, by sharpening your focus, you can improve your results and make your donors happier.

I just got three mail solicitations for $50 gifts from an organization to which I recently donated $250,000. Another organization thanked me for a generous gift, and then promptly turned around and asked me to buy a table at their gala, and donate something for the charity auction.

Call me a curmudgeon, but my reaction is: “I’ll give what I want. Don’t keep asking.” I don’t believe that I’m alone, either. Donor fatigue is a growing problem, as competition for your dollars grows. Here’s a pile of year-end appeals that I received last year, several of them from the same organizations.


The first rule of fundraising is “don’t annoy your donors.” How about culling your mailing list, to spare major donors the nickel-and-dime requests? How about asking me what level of support I am willing and able to make this year… and then not coming back for more?

Personally, I would prefer to give the organization the money, and let them decide how to “credit” it. My name on a sponsor list? Fine. A table at the gala? Sure. Even better, how about inviting everyone who has given above a certain level to attend the gala for free or at the lowest justifiable price, as a thank you?

Sharpening your focus will improve the effectiveness, efficiency and speed of your fundraising. It comes back to our secret formula for fundraising:


Each part of the formula involves activities that – at their best – are performed with laser-like precision.  By improving on any of the measures, you can positively affect your total dollars raised, and streamline your fundraising process.  

For example, if you increase your average gift and/or improve your closing rate, you can reduce the number of donors needed, and still hit your fundraising goal. Because you are dealing with fewer donors, you will need fewer staff, and you can lighten the load on your volunteers.

And you can get better, as you go. You can use the formula to test actionable options, based on the best available information at any point in time—i.e., making educated guesses to start, and introducing refinements as you go along. Think “rapid prototyping!”

Your donors will thank you, too.


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