I just got back from the AFP International Conference in Baltimore.
The session I presented focused on securing future growth, looking at some critical lessons from the global financial meltdown and what charities can do to prepare themselves for ensuing tough times.
In reality however the session essentially talked about a blueprint for more effective fundraising.
You can find the presentation here. I've also included a summary of the 10 points that are covered in it:
1 Stop using ROI as key measure and focus on net income. An obsession with ROI can be destructive and stop you focusing on real growth. Worry more about increasing net income.
2 Don’t sacrifice long term for short term. Cuts you make in acquisition and planned gifts/bequests are difficult to make up. You're always playing catch up. See the forest from the trees.
3 Accept that donors are not cheap. Therefore spend time looking at those will deliver the most, long term net return.
4 Use data cleverly to make informed and strategic decisions. Data + Intelligence = Insights. Understand what the data is really telling you, all is not always what it seems.
5 Avoid distraction. Spend more time doing what you know will make you lots of money, then on things that have the potential to make you some. That doesn't mean don't innovate - but remember, innovation isn't about doing new stuff that no one else is doing, it's about doing things you're not currently doing.
6 Look around at what others are doing: understand where growth is coming from. Scan environmentally. Benchmark. Mystery shop others. Look to see what others are doing: good, bad or indifferent.
7 Implement proper, well thought out supporter relationship management. Looking after donors means: proper thanking, giving and getting feedback, being personal, focusing on the 'honeymoon period' (first 30 days after someones first gift).
8 Get the fundraising tactics right. Continue to ask, tell stories, ask for the right thing, give people deadlines.
9 Focus on monthly givers. Ongoing, automatic (monthly) giving has transformed the fundraising landscape*. It continues to grow (even in the recession where we saw growth of around 10%). It's the way to go. Caveat is in the US where fewer organization's have ridden the monthly giving wave, but this is changing.
10 Use multiple vehicles to find new supporters. Multi stage and multi channel recruitment programs are rocking right now. Simply relying on one acquisition vehicle is dangerous and blinkered.
The crux of the session focused on decisions we can control, not those we can't. The organizations that have/are coming through the financial crisis in healthy, and in sometimes 'better' shape are those that have adhered to the above blueprint.