Stop Looking for a Fundraising Magic Bullet

by Joe Garecht

Bullet Train

Do you ever find yourself, your team, or your board of directors saying things like:

“If we could just get this one big grant, we’d be set for the year!”

Or, “I think we should hold a huge gala event.  If we raise everything we need now, we can focus on programs later.”

Or, “I keep trying to set up a meeting with that big donor.  Why won’t he meet with me? If he could just hear about our work, he’d give us the million dollars we need to build our new building!  I’m just going to have to wait until he calls me back.”

Statements of these are symptoms of a big problem at your non-profit.  They are a sign that you, your board, or your team are waiting for a “magic bullet” to solve your fundraising problems.  And I’ve got bad news for you… there’s no such thing!

Magic Bullets are Tempting

I know that magic bullets are tempting.  As fundraisers, we go to seminars and hear about setting up donor funnels, building fundraising networks, and making asks.  And it seems like a really slow way to go about fundraising.  It seems like so much work!

It would be much easier to just get one big check, one big grant, or hold one big event and raise all of the money we need.  Then we could launch new programs, build new buildings, and help more people today!  Thinking like this comes from a good place… a desire to help more people… but fundraising just doesn’t work like that.

How Thriving Non-Profits Really Get There

When you see a non-profit that is really thriving… one that is raising the money they need, instead of living “check to check,” and one that is constantly expanding its reach and serving more people… I can guarantee you that it go there the hard way.

Non-profits like that spent time in the trenches, prospecting, cultivating, and asking.  They stewarded their donors and encouraged them to upgrade.  They asked for referrals to new donors.  They built annual giving programs, held in person meetings, made personal fundraising calls.  They did the work.  They are still doing the work.  And it is paying off.

Today, I encourage you to think about your fundraising program.  Are you waiting on any magic bullets?  Are you putting together a plan that relies on magic bullets to succeed?  Now is the time to stop chasing magic bullets, and start building a strong fundraising funnel and working towards lifelong relationships with your donors.

It takes work.  It takes time.  But in the end, it’s the only way to build the fundraising program and the non-profit that you’ve been aiming for.

Photo Credit: Rudy Herman


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