How are you going to handle your next fundraising set back?

We all go through tough times, but how you handle adversity is what truly matters.  Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Jeff Evans; a mountaineer and motivational speaker.  Jeff had a ton of interesting stories to share, but one stuck with me.

He said… I’m paraphrasing here… when there are four of us climbing up Mt. Everest and we’re tethered together with a rope; if one of us stops or falls we all fall.  We’re a team.  But, it was Jeff’s next statement that struck a chord. Again paraphrasing… When some falls we don’t ask who fell, or figure out who’s at fault; instead we check to make sure everyone is all right.  Because blaming someone for falling isn’t really helpful at 22thousand ft.

I’m not sure what it is about us non-profit folks, but I’ve noticed we tend to blame or beat ourselves up when don’t hit certain goals.  But, that’s not helpful or productive. 

I was talking to a friend who manages P2P events at a local non-profit; she was harping on the fact that they were $3,500 behind in revenue compared to this time last year.  I asked how are your registrations?  She said that’s the thing registrations are up, but our dollars are down. 

Ok, let’s pause here.  My friend shouldn’t be in a state of woe; instead she should focus on her accomplishment. So the dollars might be down, but the registrations are up.  This says to me that she’s doing a great job marketing the event, but maybe needs to take another look at the follow up fundraising messages.  I have no doubt that my friend will meet her fundraising goal, she’s smart and a hard worker, but she’s not doing herself any favors by beating herself up.

I used to do this too when I was managing events. Maybe we beat ourselves up because we know the money we are tasked with raising is important – people are depending on us.  But, when people are depending on you – you need to be in tip top shape.  You don’t have time to be in a state of woe, because you need to figure out how you’re going reach the summit or hit your fundraising goals.

As I’m writing this, I can’t help think about my Mom.  Growing up my Mom wouldn’t let me have these woe is me moments.  Instead she would say “Amy you need to get up, dust yourself off and move forward.”  Thanks Mom!

For all my friends out there with fall events, if you’re numbers aren’t where you want them to be it’s not time to call in National Guard. Instead, walk away from your desk, go make a cup of team (or my case run to Starbucks) and clear your head. 

When you return from your break take a fresh look at all your numbers. Don’t just focus on the revenue, look for other program indicators. 

  1. Look at registrations: number of teams, number of participants, individual participants. How do those numbers compare to last year and to your goals for this year?
  2. Have all your top fundraising teams from last year have signed up again; if they have are they active? Meaning- are they a team of one or have multiple people signed up; if people have signed up are they fundraising?
  3. Run a report and find your active fundraiser.  How do you tell if someone is active?  Check and see if they’ve updated their fundraising page, sent emails from their HQ, and number of gifts they’ve received. Once you’ve found these individuals, give them a call and encourage them to keep up the good work.
  4. Run a report and find your participants with potential.  Who has potential?  My favorite way of identify potential fundraisers is to if they changed their fundraising goal.  Why? Great question.  Here’s my theory…  let’s face it we ask a lot of information during the registration process, so if someone takes the time to read your entire form and they make a thoughtful decision to change the preset fundraising goal they’re committed – they’re into you.  They took the time to think about fundraising and what was a good personal goal.

Jeff and his team didn’t care who was at fault because it’s wasn’t productive; nor does it motivate you to keep going. If you focus on the negative you won’t be able to see your potential. As Mom always encouraged me to get back up, dust myself and move forward; I’m encouraging you to do the same.