Episode 13 | Fundraising FREEDOM Step 2: Run Your Research


What kind of research are we looking for in this step?

Research actually allows us to gain confidence.  Especially if you are trying to raise a larger amount of money, this step allows you to regroup and overcome your fear of fundraising.  The data and numbers are important – you want to be as specific with the data as to be believable.  You want to give enough stats to show that you know what you’re doing. 

In this step, what you’re trying to do is evaluate what other people are doing.  What’s working?  What’s not?  What is my competition doing?  What are my allies doing?  When it comes to charitable work, a lot of people don’t think they have competition because everyone is doing good work; which is true.  Clearly, there are organizations and other individuals doing similar work to yours.  Some of them are having great success while others aren’t.  You have to make broad observations off minute details.  Look to social media, local media, etc. and draw broad observations off the little details you’ve found. 

How does the research help you decide where you want to focus your efforts?

After you’ve compiled a list of what your competition/allies are doing, start looking for patterns – when are they doing it, what location are they using, what months are they fundraising, etc.  When I moved to St. Louis and started running my research, I realized that all of the elite charities were hosting their events at one particular venue.  I realized that if I wanted to compete with the “big boys” I had to either book that location or come up with a different, completely unique location that no one else was using.  It provided the opportunity to create a new environment that no one had been in before and I could create an elite experience for my audience. 

Aside from allies and competition, what other things should you be looking at while running your research?

The last thing I want to address here is desperation.  This is one of those topics I could rant on for quite some time. When you care about your cause and are so passionate about what you’re doing, you will say and do things that come across as very desperate.  Picture a young man who badly wants to be in a relationship with a young girl and he ends up saying things to her that are a complete turn-off.  Of course, she’s going to tell him to move along.  It’s the same kind of desperation we give off when it comes to raising funds.  I see it all the time – in print materials, on social media, on TV when people are doing interviews—and I think, why would you say that???  It comes out because there is this feeling as we need you so bad and it comes off as though we’re begging and pleading for cash.  I want to encourage you that even though you may feel that inside, put the face on that you’ve got this together.  Even if you don’t – sometimes you do have to fake it ‘til you make it. 

We know being a nonprofit executive is a lonely job and we want you to know that you are not alone as you work toward your mission.  If you like the content of the podcast, as well as the work we do, we invite you to join the Nonprofit Executive Club.  The Executive Club is a monthly training program that gives you the ability to increase your influence through strategic planning and fundraising support.  For more information and to join the Club, go to nonprofitexecutiveclub.com.

Resources from this episode:

Strategic Plan Toolkit

Fundraising Freedom Roadmap

Connect with Mary:

Mary Valloni

Mary’s book: Fundraising Freedom

Connect with Joel:

Joel Kessel

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