FUNdraising Good Times: Creating a sense of urgency

Have you ever wondered why your fundraising efforts seem to stall, not get off the ground, or never come to an end? We suspect your campaign isn’t working with a sense of urgency.

There are so many things that need to go right in order for a fundraising campaign to be successful. One of them is creating a sense of urgency. This should be set during the planning phases: you cannot recover once you set another standard.

If you want to increase momentum within your fundraising, we have 11 suggestions to help you get started.

  1. Establish a time duration for your anticipated fundraising campaign, and stay with it.
  2. Prior to launch, create an agreed upon list of campaign milestones.
  3. When recruiting volunteers and staff, let them know what you are asking them to do, and that the team works with an expectation that time and dates are honored.
  4. Reinforce the importance of due dates during meetings and through written communications. When key dates are missed, take the time to focus on this fact, discuss what happened, and come up a work-around solution.
  5. Encourage all who are involved with your campaign to think about back up plans: encourage the development of a Plan B and Plan C to offset time lost working on Plan A. Things will go “wrong” – that’s part of the process. Don’t worry about it: plan for it.
  6. When a member of your fundraising team shows a pattern of disregard for meeting dates and accomplishments, speak with them about it directly. Be in a position to replace that person with a more responsible volunteer or staff person if needed.
  7. Acknowledge and honor those individuals – both volunteers and staff – who meet their commitments in a timely fashion.
  8. Don’t forget the “meeting before the meeting.” Before each meeting, take time to individually contact participants to ensure that key assignments are progressing, and to learn what issues – if any – may need to be addressed.
  9. After each meeting send out highlights or minutes documenting commitments, results, new plans, and alternative strategies.
  10. As a fun element, put in place rewards and penalty programs. Plan to celebrate when team members meet – or exceed – their commitments. Build in fun, non-shaming “penalties” for when people slack on their responsibilities.
  11. Be clear in all your communications that the opportunity to volunteer with a nonprofit should be viewed as an honor and a privilege. The same professional importance should be given to volunteer service as to your career.

Believe it or not, people can fulfill commitments if they are reasonable, specific, within their capacity and interest, and time-defined. Creating a sense of urgency actually supports a team in reaching its goals. Here’s the hard part: you have to set the standard and live up to it, and before you ask / demand others to do the same.

Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

When you are ready to build a fund development program, grow your fundraising, or increase board engagement we are here to help at

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