Chronicle of Philanthropy

An Up-Hill Battle: What to Do When You're Behind Your Goal

Recently, a friend of mine who is an Executive Director, asked me what to do. He was concerned that his organization was not going to make their fundraising goals for the year.  "What should we do?" he asked.

First things first. The year is not over yet! I was pretty upset that it's not even October and this Executive Director had already said "ain't gonna happen!" Whoa, my friend! As my mama always said:

"Can't never could!" 

You still have time to re-double your efforts. Pull your team together. This is a moment for him, as Executive Director, to demonstrate leadership. He needs a battle plan. Get all hands on deck. I mean all hands on deck: board members, staff members, volunteers. 

If you have a long way to go to goal, decide what each person can do. Give people specific assignments. Make sure that people have the tools they need to succeed also. If you want board members to send out emails, write the emails for them. Board members can edit them, but it helps them to get going to not have to start from scratch.

Here are a few strategies that have helped me be very successful in year-end giving:

Hatching a New Grants Strategy?

Hatching a New Grants Strategy?

A friend of mine wrote me this question and suggested that I answer it on my blog:

Hey, Rebecca, a while back, I was a member of the Junior League and I was assigned to the committee to write grants for the League. Problem is, they had not received any grants in recent history, and had absolutely no records of any that they applied for or any that would be appropriate. (I have no idea what the person assigned to that committee the previous year did, either.)  I had all the information I could possibly need about the organization, its projects, finances, etc., but absolutely no clue where to start looking for grants. What would you have done in that situation?

The fun and exciting news for those of us in fundraising is that starting from scratch happens to us all the time!  We often begin without the kind of basic information we need.  In this case, at least, my friend had the financial and organizational information she needed, she just didn't have any history about what worked or didn't in the organization's grant writing efforts. She wasn't at ground zero, but she wasn't exactly much above it. 

As far as where to start:  The first thing I would do is assess the organization's needs:  What does the organization need most?  Whatever the group’s most significant needs are, that’s what I would try to to find a funder for.

I’d also have a conversation with the group’s leadership—the Executive Committee, perhaps—to brainstorm and prioritize all the group’s needs—so that as a grants writer I could be on the look-out for grant opportunities that match different needs of the organization.

I suspect that my friend’s larger question about where to start is about where to begin looking for opportunities so I’ll offer several suggestions.  The answer really depends on your budget and your community’s resources. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have access to a subscription to the Foundation Directory Online. The cities of New York, Cleveland, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. all have Foundation Directory libraries that you can visit. At these libraries, you can use the foundation directory at no charge and the librarians offer you assistance with your search.  There are also free (or low-cost) classes on topics of interest to fundraisers and other nonprofit personnel (including board members) and books that are available to borrow (again, at my favorite price: free, free, free!). 

If you don’t live in a city with a foundation library, don’t despair. 

An Empathy Gap?

An Empathy Gap?

A new study conducted by researchers at Stanford, suggests that there is an "empathy gap" between men and women that affects charitable giving.  

To study differences in men and women and charitable giving, the researchers tested responses to appeals for support for a fictional organization they called the Coalition to Reduce Poverty.

The study broke the 1,1715-person sample into 5 test groups and compared the responses of men and women in each of the sub-samples.