This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
As I write this week's Fundraising Academy post, I'm reminded of the many distractions I've faced in the past week: Halloween, Daylight Savings, Election Day (which has now become Election Week). I'm inspired to share some thoughts on how, as fundraisers, we're in a constant battle to focus in an environment ripe for distraction.
Have you ever heard any of these requests?:
"We need you to call your assigned prospects and ask them for donations to our silent auction."
"Would you please proof this invitation list for typos?"
"I'm putting you on the reunion committee."
"We want to apply for a grant and need you to help us write the application."
"We'd like you to be on the search committee for a new faculty/staff member."
"Since you're in fundraising, we want you to head up the United Way campaign."
Meetings, planning sessions, serving on committees, blast FYI emails, and other requests from inside and outside of your organization make it easy to lose focus. On the one hand, it's great, and on the other, it means valuable time taken from your primary job.
A piece of advice I received early in my career is just as true today. Fundraising metrics define you as a fundraiser. When you receive requests that pull you away from time spent fundraising, it's OK to say no and explain how that removes you from other work commitments. Sure, I've had others question my decision and attempt to solve my "time commitment problem." Most politely, I ask in return that they enlist my time when they have a request that includes a relationship to fundraising.
When a committee needs me, I make sure that my time there is spent on fundraising initiatives. I let others decide about signage, menu, and wine options (as much as it may hurt).
It's not easy to say no. But my reasoning is simple: my annual review focuses on fundraising metrics, not extracurriculars. My goals are about new donors, increased giving by current donors, new planned gifts, and KPIs around meaningful donor contact. Failing on these metrics brings me out of alignment with my supervisor and doesn't serve the organization's overall needs. Losing my job for not meeting these metrics is a reality.
This focus comes by writing a list of top priorities for prospects at the beginning of every week, revisiting that list every morning to reset priorities, and making sure every item moves throughout the week. If your team struggles with focus, I'd be happy to show you how Gravyty keeps fundraisers on-track and helps them achieve results that would otherwise be impossible. Who knows, it could free them up to take on that extra committee meeting, too!
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your fundraising staff to act as 2-3x its size, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, click the button below and let's connect.