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November 13, 2013

Small Steps, Big Gains

th-1We all know that if you’ve got a big task ahead of you, breaking it down into small steps makes it a whole lot easier.  It’s as true in fundraising as in anything else.

Creating small moments of success can motivate your volunteers, put a fire under your staff, and move donors to speedy action.

Here are two recent examples from our clients:

Infusing new energy into a capital campaign with a benchmark goal

When one of our social service clients approached a major foundation for a capital grant, the foundation made it clear that the campaign needed to be at the 75% mark in order for them to consider a gift.

The staff and board rallied around this interim goal and the foundation’s deadline with a new energy.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  The early excitement of the big lead gifts had passed, the low hanging fruit had been picked, and everyone was beginning to feel a little tired.

To achieve the 75% threshold, the board and staff called upon prospects who had been slow in making their campaign decision.  Several stepped up instantly.  They also called upon prospects who were at the second tier of giving.  To those donors, their gifts seemed more significant toward a smaller, immediate goal than they did in the context of a multi-million effort.

Donors felt that their contribution – within the context of a smaller, interim goal – really mattered.

The organization met the 75% goal and submitted the six-figure grant request.  The team is now moving forward with greater confidence and a renewed sense of purpose.

Using a matching gift to generate annual fund gifts during the low season

Summer isn’t the height of fundraising season for most of us. An arts organization crafted a summertime challenge to ramp up annual fund participation.

They secured a challenge grant from a long-time donor who was delighted to lend her name, image and dollars to the effort.  A series of targeted emails to a selected segment of middle level donors, followed by personal phone calls, quickly achieved the goal.

The challenge donor felt great, the staff enjoyed the bump in success during the summertime lull, and the bottom line most certainly benefited!

Once again, each donor felt like their gift really mattered.

Think about how you can condense your big goals into a series of smaller interim or benchmark goals. Take things one stepping stone at a time and before you know it, you’ll be on the other side of the stream!

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