Back to brilliant basics

Reviewing what works

Just like the private and public sectors, our sector has had to react and respond in an agile and lightning speed manner. This has been crucial for the ability for organizations to continue to fund and deliver their missions, whatever the cause may be. And we have seen an approach - that commonly exists within humanitarian response organizations when a disaster occurs - where the galvanizing of people and breaking down of silos allows fundraising to operate at its best; and this is being played out across all types of organizations. It’s been impressive to see income generation teams working across and with other teams, with the same single focus.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to review our income generation approach, through different lenses that we possibly wouldn’t normally use - from the way we proposition our organization’s need for funds in a compelling and urgent manner, to how we execute that ask and via what channels. We’ve seen innovation, with new channels being tested for the first time, as budgets move from one team to another; and, where appetite for risk was nominal, measured risks have been successfully embraced and undertaken.

Income generation must continue to be respected and supported, whether that’s testing new approaches or diversifying the marketing mix and portfolio.

Current, relevant and engaging

So, what is key to the safeguarding of income generation? A focus on brilliant basics is the starting point. Ensure your case for support and fundraising proposition is current, relevant and engaging. It should continue to be absolutely aligned to your mission and engaging for both existing and new supporters. We’ve also seen fundraising communications responding to the fact that people are more likely to be at home, and could be anxious, stressed, affected directly by Covid-19, or impacted financially. Putting people at the heart of fundraising - offering support, signposting to resources (opportunities to take part in online communities), having a conversation on the phone, and connecting people who may feel isolated has shown, again, that excellent fundraising is much more than just asking for money.

Your supporters are your key partner in delivering your mission and expect to hear from you, whether you’re updating on vital work or indeed asking for a gift. Speak to them, gather insights and knowledge to help shape ‘their’ future journey. The more you know about your key partners and supporters, the more you can tailor and design your communications to be relevant and steward appropriately and effectively.

Remove processes that inhibit creativity and only serve to create obstacles. Whether the process is for a piece of procurement, or multi-function sign off for a piece of copy on a webpage, continue to look through a lens of urgency and mission focused.

Create and support culture of innovation, by providing some innovation funds to explore new opportunities, which aren’t necessarily new to our sector, but perhaps new for your organization.

Re-investing donors’ dollars for the sustainability of delivering your mission must of course be economically effective and efficient. But don’t be but over-reliant on using only ‘best performers’ in terms of channels. As we’ve seen, significant areas of fundraising have completely stopped, so failing to embed a testing culture and approach can only harm your organization further down the line.


Jindy Pal is Senior Consultant with THINK Consulting Solutions. 
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