The Million-Dollar Question…or, the Importance of Being Strategic

strategy blocks

By Molly Galo, Senior Consultant, HUB International

What would you do if a donor walked through the door, out of the blue, and gave you $5 million?  Or even $1 million?   Unlikely to happen, I know, but an important thought exercise for an organization to go through.  Every chief development officer, CEO, and board member should be able to answer that question – in the same, strategic way.

Sounds easy enough …but organizations often get lost in day-to-day activities, and spend more time reacting to opportunities than being strategic.   When we lose focus on strategy, we risk projecting a diffuse message with competing priorities, and ultimately employ a fundraising plan that is not sustainable.

Following these simple steps will help you stay focused on high-level, strategic goals, and will help you build a fundraising framework to support those goals.

  • Identify organization’s overall strategic priorities. Do you have a strategic plan?  Where does the organization want to be in three-to-five years?
  • Ensure everyone – from the CEO to the development staff to the program staff to the board of directors – knows the goals, as well as they know the organization’s mission. Keep them in view…hang them on office bulletin boards and print them on every board meeting agenda.
  • Identify fundraising priorities that support advancement of the strategic goals. Make sure the board of directors and development staff keep those priorities front and center.
  • Stay focused and disciplined when considering funding opportunities and donor desires. Don’t be afraid to turn away from a funding request if it doesn’t align with the strategic goals.
  • Let the goals drive your fundraising and marketing messaging. All of your appeals, including direct mail and face-to-face, should have the same basic message.  Marketing materials, including your annual report, should, too.
  • Revisit your organizational and fundraising goals annually. Celebrate your successes and refocus where needed.

By periodically taking a birds-eye, long-term view, and by being strategic in your day-to-day fundraising activities, you, your CEO and your board will be able to answer that million dollar question.  And, while you may not receive a gift of that magnitude, you will ultimately surpass your fundraising goals.


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