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Benjamin R. Case

Benjamin R. Case

CEO and Senior Consultant,
Focused On Fundraising, Inc.

The 3 Most Important Things in Fundraising

I got a call about a chief development officer position from my friend Steven Ast, the leader of his own executive search firm. I told him our team had raised more than ever, costing us just 3 cents for every dollar. I asked Steven if he thought this was as exceptional as I did.

“Who would care?” he responded.

“I’d think most nonprofits would want to be sure their investments in fundraising are paying off,” I said, surprised.

“Sure they do, but only one thing matters: Results,” Steven observed. “It’s good that you know the figures, but keep the message simple: Your team raised more money than ever. That is what matters the most.”

He wasn’t wrong. Through my experience, I know that nonprofits have to invest differently at different stages of their fundraising programs’ development. A more mature nonprofit may be able to invest less and produce a 3-cents-on-the-dollar result. Another may have to spend 50 cents to raise a dollar because it is trying to grow. Each nonprofit should develop an appropriate strategy to maximize its fundraising in the short and long run.

If all you count is the immediate return on investment, you will miss its long-term benefit. One nonprofit I worked with that tripled their investment in major gift fundraising quadrupled the dollars raised in major gifts in 3 years and established the framework to continue that growth in future years.

Yes, we must be wise with the investment of resources in fundraising. Yes, we need great staff. Yes, we must have positive relationships with our donors. But at the end of the day, 3 things matter most in fundraising:

Results. Results. Results.

By the Numbers

Consider the recruitment opportunities for your organization that these stats indicate:

  • About 63 million Americans (25% of the adult population) volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • These people spend an average of 52 hours/year volunteering.
  • 72% of volunteers are involved with only one organization, while 18.3% are involved with two.

Random interesting stats presented monthly from various sources.