One of the biggest questions you can ask at your non-profit is: Is the effort worth the money we’ll raise? The answer to this question will help guide your fundraising strategy and tell you where to allocate your non-profit’s limited resources.
Asking this question is a simple and direct way to figure out the fundraising ROI (return on investment) of your programs. And it’s a question that most non-profit fundraisers, executive directors, and board members never ask.
How Non-Profits Get into Trouble
There’s a pattern that plays out at many non-profits. See if this sounds familiar:
Your non-profit does great work, and because of that you want to raise as much money as possible. Your staff, your board, and your volunteers are constantly coming up with ideas to raise more money. Many of them seem plausible, so you add them to your plan. After a couple of years, you’ve got a full slate of fundraising events, mailings, bake sales, auctions, restaurant nights, and every other type of fundraiser possible.
Your team is working around the clock, but you’re still struggling for revenue. No matter how many tactics you add or how hard your staff and board work, you never feel like you’re raising as much as you could.
This is how non-profits get into trouble. This is why staff and board turnover are so high and why fundraisers are so stressed out. It’s avoidable, yet so many non-profits fall into this trap because they never ask one important question…
Is the Effort Worth the Money We Will Raise?
In a larger sense of course, your efforts are worth the money you’ll raise, because all of the money is going to an amazing cause. But in truth, not all fundraising revenue is created equal.
Let me ask you: is it worth it to spend 50 hours and $10,000 to hold an event that raises $75,000? The answer will differ for every non-profit… there’s a valid argument to be made either way.
Now, what if I told you that you could take that same 50 hours and $10,000 and raise $150,000 through major gift fundraising by sending your team out to personally cultivate donors? Would your answer to the event question change? Is it worth it to spend the time and money to hold an event that raises $75,000 when you could invest the same time and money into major gifts and raise twice as much money?
Please note, I’m not saying that your non-profit can necessarily double its fundraising output by switching an event to a major donor campaign. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. The important thing is to ask the question.
Your non-profit has limited time, money, and energy for fundraising. Because of that, it’s important that you ask this question about every single thing you are doing at your organization. You need to constantly be asking “Is the effort worth the money we will raise?”
The next time someone asks you hold another event or send out a “quick” mailing to your donors, ask yourself, “is the effort worth the money we’ll raise?” In other words, if it’s going to take us 10 hours to put this mailing together… could we raise more by spending those 10 hours doing something else?
This is a crucial question to ask at your non-profit… one that when asked often enough, will be the difference between simply surviving and truly thriving with your fundraising program.