The vast majority of non-profits are struggling when it comes to fundraising. They may be raising enough money to keep their programs going, or even growing… but they’re doing it with too much stress, constant staff turnover, and constant friction in their development program.
At most non-profits, fundraising is a constant point of struggle. At many of them, the staff and board have a feeling that there’s a better way to fundraise, but they’re not quite sure what it is. The reason that most non-profit organization struggle when it comes to fundraising is because they don’t have donor funnels in place to make their fundraising knowable and scalable. A donor funnel is a strategy for streamlining your donor cultivation, asking, and stewardship programs, which results in your non-profit being able to raise far more money with far less hassle.
Simply put, a donor funnel is an overview of the lifetime relationship a donor has with your non-profit… from prospecting to cultivation, asking to stewardship.
Is Your Fundraising “Knowable?”
A good donor funnel clarifies your development program and makes your fundraising knowable. This is because funnels are testable – you can implement a donor funnel, and track the results. Through testing, you can see whether the funnels you establish are successful or not, and tweak them until they are. Once you have good funnels in place, you will know what results you can expect. For example, you will know that if your non-profit follows a certain strategy when meeting a new prospect, you will have a higher likelihood of turning that prospect into a donor.
Is Your Fundraising “Scalable?”
Because donor funnels make your fundraising process knowable, they also make it scaleable. Once you have good funnels in place, you will be able to add more donors or activities into the donor funnel system and know that the outcomes will remain the same. Thus, once you have a good online fundraising funnel in place, you will be able to increase your online prospecting and know that the system will scale to accommodate the new prospects.
Is it Easy to Make Fundraising Decisions at Your Non-Profit?
Good donor funnels include decision points that clarify decision making for your team. Far too many non-profits waste bandwidth trying to customize decision making for each donor action… and many organizations are reluctant to make decisions that conserve necessary resources based on a cost / benefit analysis. For example, many development offices will spend time and money communicating with a prospect long after it is clear that the person will not be making a gift to the organization. A good donor funnel makes decision-making easier. It lays out a set of actions, and then when those actions have been taken, details a decision point.
Thus, a non-profit may take a series of 5 actions with new individual donor prospects, and then have a simple decision to make about whether or not the prospect will remain on the prospect list. The organization doesn’t need to wring its hands over each prospect it drops from the rolls. Instead, it can rely on the donor funnel system to make the determination and have confidence in the result.
Does Your Fundraising Program Have Defined Roles?
A successful donor funnel lays out defined roles for staff, board members, and volunteers. Good funnel systems detail responsibilities and provide accountability for your entire team.
Here’s Why Donor Funnels Matter for Your Non-Profit
Donor funnels matter because they allow your non-profit to raise more money with less stress, hassle, and resources. Development offices that don’t have good donor funnel systems feel chaotic… and fundraisers there often struggle to keep their head above water, with the constant sense that the organization is one bad month or one missed check away from insolvency. I call this “the fundraising treadmill” – the feeling that no matter what you did this month, come next month you will be starting from zero again, and it will be just as hectic and chaotic as ever.
Good donor funnels allow you to get off of the treadmill by implementing a knowable, scalable system that provides the revenue your organization needs to thrive. Remember – Having a strong donor funnel in place makes the development process simpler, and eliminates the guess work in your fundraising program. It operates under the 80/20 principle — 20% of your efforts will result in 80% of your fundraising results.
So, create donor funnels based on those 20% of your tactics that produce 80% of your revenue, and resist the urge for constant customization. In my experience, that customization takes up 80% of your time, but only produces 20% of your revenue.