Have you ever heard of the old Zen saying: If you don’t have time to meditate for 5 minutes, then meditate for an hour.
(ummmm….I can’t do that with my legs)
Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried meditating but when you are a fundraiser, you are b.u.s.y. And there are only so many hours in a day.
And as a fundraiser, you have multiple projects that need to be worked on concurrently.
If you’re not planning for all of these kinds of things, you can see how easy it would be to skip something. It could be that you forget a grant deadline or keep postponing speaking to your sponsors.
And you can see (and already know) that fundraising is a multitude of different disciplines, all crammed under the heading “fundraising.”
When you break it down, it includes:
>>>and I could go on.
Fundraising as a profession is like the ultimate in multi-tasking.
And if you work in a small or mid-sized shop, you’re probably doing a little bit of all of the above. Or trying to.
But listen up: we all like to think we can multi-task.
The truth is that research has shown that we can’t actually perform two tasks that require high-level brain function at once. Your brain just can’t do it.
What you’re actually doing is switching between tasks very quickly.
And I think that is a great way to think about fundraising. If you’re running a fundraising program, you are constantly required to quickly switch between tasks.
And it’s exhausting.
And here’s what research also has shown us about multi-tasking: you end up being less effective when you switch back and forth vs. spending focused attention on one task.
So why all this talk about multi-tasking? Because it’s what we have to do if we are running a fundraising program with a diversity of strategies.
So what, you may be saying.
Well, here’s the thing. Because you’re running a fundraising program with a diversity of strategies….
It’s the whole reason for needing a fundraising plan – so that we CAN do multiple things and even be somewhat effective at them.
If you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to lurch from special event to direct marketing campaign to foundation grant without ever taking the time to understand…
Without taking the time to plan, it’s easy to never stop to think about the connective tissue between everything that you’re doing.
I see this so often…folks have a fundraising program that is a series of discrete activities.
There is no connection between each thing they are doing.
Don’t get me wrong: you may have fundraising initiatives that stand alone and are not connected to each other.
But think about how much more effective it will be if you can cross-promote your work. Imagine using special events as cultivation and stewardship opportunities? Invite some of your special friends – donors or other folks – to your events as a thanks for all they do.
I used to have an event that was a $25 ticket price. And it was a pretty cool event. I invited folks who were important to my fundraising program to the event for free. Only a handful ever took me up on the offer, so it didn’t cost me much. And it was so nice to be able to reach out to people with an offer of something rather than only asking for something when I contacted them.
Ok, so here’s why planning is so important to managing multiple fundraising initiatives:
A plan will keep you from simply doing what you like the most and keep you on track to do what is most important. Because that is what can be so challenging about managing multiple things: it’s easy to get paralyzed by having to do so much so you freeze and do what is easiest for you.
If you still hear people say they don’t have time to plan…remember that old Zen saying...you should meditate for an hour.
Developing your fundraising plan is kind of the same.
If you think you’re too busy to plan, you probably would benefit from spending even more time planning.
Get instant access to the free resource Fundraising's Enabling Ecology Approach and learn how to create the right environment for your fundraising program to thrive.