2019 is almost here and it's about to provide us with a fresh start in our fundraising and communications programs.
While your organization’s fiscal year may not run on the calendar year, the start of the new year may inspire you to think big and explore possible changes. If you’re thinking about changes you want to make in 2019 for your fundraising or communications program, I want to give you a generative question to consider for planning.
Here it is -- What problem are you really solving for?
This question came up in my own planning process last year and has been hugely generative for me and my clients.
The sister question that inspired it was -- Where can I go for a multiplied result?
This question is really about considering where I can get exponentially greater results rather than just marginally better results. Sure, gradually increasing results or outcomes is good, but usually there are one or two places where there is an opportunity for even greater growth.
When I build out a fundraising or communications plan, I try to identify those places and then build the plan to leverage the opportunities. Ultimately, my goal is to improve the outcomes with ease so rather than spreading resources too thin trying to work to improve a bunch of things, I focus like a laser.
'Tis the season for planning. Here are two generative questions to help you create your next fundraising or communications plan.
As my partner and I talked through some of my goals last year, he was the one to ask me the question about what problem I'm really trying to solve for and that massively shifted my perspective.
You see, when we set big, Oprah-sized goals we inevitably face obstacles to getting to the goal. But rather than letting those obstacles derail your plans, recognize that those obstacles are the real problems you need to solve. And more importantly, they are often the strategies that will help you reach your big goal.
Let me give you an example. If you are trying to raise an additional $100k in 2018 that is your outcome. But in order to achieve that outcome, you might need to increase your major gifts portfolio and in order to do that, maybe you need an extra 5 to 10 hours a week to dedicate to major gifts work. The problem you are really trying to solve for is creating time in your weekly schedule.
And of course, any time we identify obstacles we could start to see them as reasons why we can't reach our goal.
Or. . . you could choose to view them as the smaller projects you need to work on to reach your goal. They are the mile markers on your way to success.
As we enter a time of the year when you may be developing resolutions and setting new goals, I want to encourage you to dig deeper to think about what it’s really going to take to reach that goal. More than likely, that means identifying the real problem you are solving for that will lead you to the bigger and better result.
What problem are you really trying to solve? A generative question for fundraising and communications planning.
Join me for our last webinar training of the year on this very topic on Wednesday, December 19th. I'll lead you through a guided reflection, goal setting process, and planning process. You'll come away with clarity and direction to hit the ground running next year.
kellie Dockdendorf says
My non-profit is very short on unrestricted cash donors, so I would assume our problem to solve is increasing our donor base ( donor acquisition) …I’m not sure what the real problem is deeper than this? Time to do donor acquisition? Investment of both time and financial resources to do it? Any ideas you have would be appreciated!
Vanessa Chase Lockshin says
Hi Kellie – Thanks for sharing your goal for the year. Growing your donor base is a great initiative. I have a couple of thoughts about how you can dig deeper on this because acquisition can be a big project.
1) I would encourage you to think about what has prevented you from focusing on acquisition and achieving your goal in the past. There are often barriers to us being able to easily pursue goals and if you know what your historical barrier has been, then I would recommend solving that as a problem, which will then lead to you being able to make more progress on your goal.
2) What tactics/strategies will you try out to grow your donor base? I would drill down into which specific you’ll use and try to focus on those that give you the best results.
3) Acquisition can require time and financial resources. How many hours a month would you/your staff need to free up in order to execute the tactics you listed in the second question?
I hope these questions can help you clarify your problem to solve. If you have follow up questions, let me know.