How to say ‘no’ to rubbish fundraising ideas

If you work for a charity and are involved in supporting fundraising in any way, then you are a fundraiser and an awesome one at that.

In order to know what fundraising awesomeness looks like, and when you have achieved it, you must have clear measures.

All fundraisers need to know and agree what they are measured on. For example it could be a combination of response rate, average gift, cost to raise a £, $ or €, lifetime value, retention rate … and the list goes on.

I work with organisations to help individuals and teams to innovate; to think differently and develop their new ideas to raise more money. One of the biggest barriers I’ve seen for charities delivering on innovation isn’t having the ideas; fundraisers have stacks and stacks of ideas. The biggest barrier is choosing which ideas to invest resource in and progress, and which to leave on the shelf.

Steve Jobs described innovation as ‘Saying no to 1000 ideas,’ or in other words, ‘Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.’

For every idea that we spend time and energy progressing, there is an opportunity cost of not progressing the ideas that we leave on the shelf. Great fundraising innovators choose to spend time on the ideas and activities that are most likely to bring the optimum return on investment and say no to everything else.

Prioritising which fundraising ideas and activities to spend time on can be difficult, firstly because there is so much choice and secondly because we often fall in love with our own ideas. And when we are in love, it’s impossible to be objective.

I’d like to introduce you to a tool to help you be objective and prioritise your fundraising ideas and activities. It’s called the Casement Quotient  and was developed by Denisa Casement – Head of Individual Giving at Animals Asia and a top class fundraising innovator. It goes like this;

Divide your annual fundraising income by 52 weeks in a year, then divide by the number of hours in your work week.

(Income ÷ 52 wks) ÷ 39 hr = Team Value/hr

For example, in 2015, Denisa’s fundraising team raised a total of €3,299,556:
3,299,556 ÷ 52 = 63,453
63,453 ÷ 39 = 1,627

So Denisa’s fundraising team is worth €1,627 per hour.

Simple – but oh so effective!

It’s important that your definition of ‘the fundraising team’ includes every single person that touches a gift. No gift happens without the support of researchers, data managers, administration, supporter care, and anyone else that in any way supports the fundraising process.

Using the Casement Quotienttm, if someone suggests a new idea for fundraising, it gives you a benchmark of what the return you would need to realistically anticipate in order to stop doing your current activity to develop and execute the new idea.

It also helps others to make decisions, for example when someone suggests ‘why not do a collection outside a supermarket?’ If this involves paying staff for an afternoon and is only likely to raise £100 from a limited number of strangers whom you are not building a relationship with because they are just popping their loose change in a bucket, you can help them decide if that is the best use of time over another activity.

The Casement Quotienttm has helped Denisa and her team decide priorities about what fundraising activities to invest resource over the ones to not take forward. This is what Denisa and her team have learned;

• Your time is valuable – invest it carefully

• The team of 5.5 raises €1,627/hr or €12,202/day or €275,000/month

• That’s €306/hr or €2,300/day or €50,000/month per person, and remember this includes all support staff.

• It helps to say ‘no’ to ideas that are lower value than the team currently raises, and with no indication that they could raise more than that with future development.

• Some investments are for the long term. Know which ones. Just because there’s not an immediate €/hr return doesn’t mean the activity isn’t valuable. For example, legacy cultivation or a new fundraising product or way of working that will take time to gain support.

• €1,627/hr isn’t a goal, it’s the value of the whole team

Denisa said, “I can’t begin to tell you how this hourly value has impacted the pride and self confidence of my whole team – especially support staff. It’s shifted mindsets and highlighted the importance of everyday tasks like data entry and talking to supporters on the phone as a highly valued activity.”

Try it out. Make better decisions. Raise more money. Make more impact.

And as always, let us know how you get on!

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