Professional sports organizations emphasize different areas of their operations depending on which season they find themselves in. The off-season is all about strategic thinking, team building, and goal setting.
Once the season is underway, the staff’s attention shifts fully into play-by-play analysis and game-by-game adjustments to tackle each tactical move.
But in between off-season and the season, there’s an important transitional phase: the pre-season.
This is true for fundraising organizations too.
We covered what you should be doing in your organization’s off-season in an earlier article, so how does the off-season look different from pre-season?
Off-season is all about big picture thinking. That’s when you want to be identifying your annual goals, your long-term vision, your budget, and your strategic plan for how you’ll get where you want to go.
As soon as you can see your active fundraising season on the horizon, it’s time to shift gears, from off-season to pre-season.
Pre-season fundraising steps down from the 40,000 foot view of your organization back to maybe the third or fourth rung of the ladder. From here, you probably can’t see everything on the horizon, but you also don’t have your boots on the ground in active fundraising event mode.
Pre-season fundraising planning begins several months before your actual fundraising event. If you have a fall event, you’ll probably want to start planning in early summer. It’s best to give yourself about 3-4 months for in-person fundraising events.
Since there are fewer physical details to iron out, online events can be assembled quicker, but you’ll still want to begin planning about 30 days beforehand.
In either case, the person who starts to prepare all of the details for their fundraiser weeks or months in advance is far more likely to have a cool head and clear eyes once they get into the thick of the event.
If you’ve already done your off-season work, you know what your overall budget is for your organization, and you probably already know how much you need to raise.
Chances are you have several different fundraising objectives to meet your budget goals. Do some research, see what you were able to raise last year, know what you need to raise this year, and determine what you want to aim for this year.
Most organizations need to rely on diverse funding sources. Clearly stated goals for each fundraising initiative will give you, your team, and your donors a clear picture of what you’re aiming to achieve. It will also give you a way to measure success after all the work is done.
Visionary leaders are inspiring people with big ideas, which is why you do what you do! Now it’s time to take your big idea and the goals associated with it to the rest of your organization.
The best fundraisers aren’t successful on their own; the trick to their success is that they’ve figured out how to communicate their enthusiasm and vision to a group of people who are then able to buy into the importance and value of your organization.
With fully invested team members, you have a whole fundraising team ready to reach their personal contacts with the fire of your passion to carry with them.
Once you’ve established the goals for your fundraising efforts, you don’t want to be stuck doing every task yourself. Identify which of your team members, board members, staff members, or volunteers are going to spearhead the main tasks to have a successful event, and then give them the autonomy and authority to go and do the thing you’ve entrusted them with.
If you try to micromanage every part of your fundraiser, you will burn yourself out, disenfranchise your team, lose funders, and probably fail to meet your goal. Stop trying to be the superhero—assemble a super team instead.
With a team of fully invested volunteers and fundraiser advocates, it’s time to market your event.
It’s no secret that different generations have different communication preferences. If you’re old school and prefer hanging up posters around town, you’ll probably reach some people who are just like you while missing out on people who never visit those spaces.
But, if you’re a savvy marketing millennial who only relies on social media, you’re going to miss out on a ton of community members who gave up on keeping up online a long time ago.
In both cases, there are people you could be connecting with who would love to support your organization if they only knew about it.
Diversify your marketing efforts as much as you can. And since you started planning well in advance, you should have plenty of time to spread the word in all the places you expect people to be.
While the marketing tactics above are helpful to promote your event, there’s still nothing that compares to the power of word-of-mouth and referrals.
In these weeks and months before your big event, talk up your fundraiser at PTA meetings, parent meetings, rotary meetings, softball games, picnics, community events, and graduation parties.
Don’t be afraid to be direct: “Did you see that we’re selling Butter Braid Pastries this year? Joey should be bringing home a flier in a few weeks! Don’t forget to get some for his Aunt Phyllis for Christmas!”
Make your fundraising event the talk of the town. The more people who are in on it already, the more people who will experience FOMO for your fundraiser and want to jump on board.
If your pre-season fundraising planning has you sweating over your budget goals, maybe it’s time to add something fresh and simple to your fundraising strategy. Stoller Fundraising makes fundraisers that are easy to run and highly profitable for your organization. Connect with us today to explore how your organization can benefit from these simple moneymakers!