Recently I found myself in the local emergency room at about 3:00 am. Talk about a bad dream. Little did I know, it was about to get worse. The emergency room wasn’t crowded and there was a prominent sign that stated, “Average wait time 30 minutes.” I ended up waiting almost three hours before being brought back to see a doctor despite repeated reminders to the intake person that I felt like I was about to die. The reason for the wait was there wasn’t an “open bed”. With the pain I felt I wouldn’t have cared if the doctor treated me on the floor; I just wanted the pain to go away. And by the way, what happened to the 30 minute wait?

Finally, they figured out the issue and much to my relief I was given a pain killer. Once I was moved to an actual hospital room and saw how many empty beds there were it struck me the emergency room doesn’t run very efficiently and their communication certainly wasn’t very effective. With all those open beds why is there a three hour backup in the ER? Then I had a couple of days in the hospital with highly professional, highly proficient and highly capable people and was soon as good as new. What does this have to do with non-profits and fundraising? In the non-profit field we also have highly professional and capable people but we have scarce resources and sometimes don’t work as efficiently and as effectively as we could.

Fundraising is as much a science as it is an art. The job of every fundraiser is to reach their fundraising goals while controlling costs. An effective fundraiser builds relationships and develops strategies to cultivate individual donors, engaging the Board of Directors in the process. An effective fundraiser is passionate about their organization and communicates this enthusiasm to their staff, board, donors, volunteers, and community. They set clear goals and develop strategies to reach those goals. They provide their donors with excellent stewardship. Donors know how their gift is being used and what impact it is making. An effective fundraiser keeps donors informed and involved because this will keep donors invested. Relationship building and creative strategizing is the art of fundraising.

The science part of being an efficient fundraiser is how do you reach those goals while controlling costs? Are you working efficiently to keep your costs down? All non-profits spend a great deal of time carefully crafting communications with donors. Are you putting in the same effort to ensure you have accurate information on your donors? Getting the right message across is vitally important but what if that message never reaches your donor because you have the wrong email or street address? Regular data cleansing will help you get more for your fundraising efforts. Check out our earlier blog on data cleansing steps every non-profit should take to operate more efficiently.

We are all passionate about our work and our mission. When you combine the art of the ask and the science of the process you have a winning strategy! Stay well, exercise and drink plenty of fluids!

Effective and Efficient Fundraising – the Science and the Art