Silver Linings: A Look Back at an Uncertain Year
March 6, 2019
Spring Cleaning Part 2: Finding Joy in Your Workspace
March 20, 2019

Spring Cleaning Part 1: Raise More Money by Doing Less

Spring is almost upon us, despite today’s massive blizzard! So we offer up our annual reminder to make your life better and your fundraising program stronger with a little spring cleaning.  This week, we’ll focus on the big picture – cleaning up your fundraising plan and calendar. Next week, we’ll help you get your office in order.

One of the hardest things in fundraising (or life, for that matter) is letting go. But sometimes, getting rid of things actually strengthens your results. We challenge you to a proper spring cleaning. Chances are very good that you’ll raise more money by doing less.

Start by revisiting and refocusing your fundraising plan.
Spend a couple of hours with your colleagues and some newsprint. On one piece of paper write down the answers to a few critical questions:

  • What are we really trying to accomplish this year?
  • What are the drop-dead goals we have to meet?
  • Where’s the greatest potential for raising more money?
  • What are the activities that will support these goals?

Then, on another piece of paper, write down everything you’re currently spending your days on. Chances are good that your day-to-day steps aren’t creating a direct path to your desired destination.

If something doesn’t support your fundraising plan, STOP DOING IT.
Once you’re refocused on your big goals, get out your laser beam and commit to staying focused. Here’s the hard part: being focused is as much about what you’re not going to do as it is about what you will do.

There are a few ways to “throw things out.”  

Drop them quickly or phase them out gradually (like a poorly performing event or a committee that’s more maintenance than action).

Ask for help from volunteers or other staff (for things like securing event sponsorships or social media activities).

Outsource them (like using a mail house for the annual appeal or a freelancer for writing a government grant).

It’s easier to do this exercise as a group because you’ll find you need some support and encouragement to actually clean out your fundraising closet.

We do this exercise with our clients all the time and we find that three things happen:

1. They balk. Understandably there is pressure to keep doing everything they’re doing. People have come to expect it.

2. We push back. We ask questions like: What’s the worst that could happen if you drop the tabling at the Farmer’s Market? Does the program staff really need you there for every meeting? How many individual donor meetings could you hold if you weren’t writing that massive government grant yourself?

3. They breathe a sigh of relief. Once you start tossing things out, it feels goooooood. You know, good like when you box up those old bridesmaid dresses and donate them to Goodwill.

Ultimately, what we’re talking about is change. And change is never easy. It takes fortitude to give your fundraising program a good spring cleaning. And it takes discipline to keep it tidy. Enlist each others’ help and give it a go.



  1. Love the idea. It’s like tidying up and making sure the strategies you’re using ‘spark joy’ — for you AND for your constituencies. If not, time to give them away. 🙂

    • Ann Goldman says:

      You’re so right, Claire. Sparking joy is what it’s all about! Next week we’ll actually be channeling Marie Kondo for our Spring Cleaning Part 2.

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