Strategies for Success

Time Is a Valuable Asset

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Dedicated fundraising professionals often find their workloads overflowing the typical hours of a standard work week. However, working more days and hours can give one a false sense of “doing more.” We all know that more time doesn’t mean better outcomes. Here are tips for maximizing your time without extending your hours beyond what is prudent or beneficial:

Know your major donors.

Do you have a list of the nonprofit’s major donors at your fingertips? When was the last time you made personal contact with every person on the list? How much do you know about their interests and concerns? Do you know when they began giving to the organization and why? Use the bulk of your time engaging majors donors. This goes for foundation connections as well.

Get to know prospective donors.

The standard rule in fundraising is 70/20/10. Spend 70% of your time renewing and increasing gifts from current donors; 20% cultivating prospective donors; and 10% on “wild card” individuals you may meet or hear of who might be willing to give in the future. After you have wisely invested most of your time with existing donors, seek opportunities to draw prospective donors into the life of the organization. If there’s time after that to follow a lead, go for it.

Create a written plan annually.

Don’t assume you’ll spend the coming year with right ratio of activities. We all tend to have tasks we enjoy and gravitate toward and others we avoid. Whether you use a calendar or an Excel spreadsheet, use the 70/20/10 ratio to write down achievable benchmarks and associated tasks for January through December. Include measuring your milestones so you will be more likely to meet your goals. And be sure to include the important task of celebrating success with your donors, volunteers and your staff along the way.

With appropriate planning, realistic goals and deepening donor relationships, your fundraising outcomes can improve significantly. You will also be able to continue growing personally, as well as professionally, when you wisely manage the highly valuable asset: your time.

Louis Gehring, MM, CFRE

Louis Gehring, MM, CFRE

Executive Vice President

Houston, Tex.

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