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Radical Fundraisers: less is more, least is best

on Dec 27, 2015

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Are you striving for effective, efficient fundraising to achieve your mission? Then a laser focus on learning your fundraising fundamentals from start to finish should be your first priority.

Learn what works. Learn how to do it, and do it well. Learn why it works. Teach. Repeat.

A radical fundraiser doesn’t add a fresh coat of paint to a broken down car. They know there is as much value in knowing what not to do, as in knowing what’s next. They’ll never stop striving for the most effective, stripped-down solution to achieving their goals. They know that less is more, but least is best.

Too often, because we’re all struggling to save time, we can get tricked. Tricked into thinking that there is always a short cut if we just look hard enough. That instead of the often arduous task of rebuilding a broken system from the ground up, there’s an elegant solution to be found. These elegant or simple solutions are rarely what they seem, because they don’t often account for the required execution.

Here’s what you have, or will, hear most often:

1. Simple solutions requiring complex execution
2. Simple solutions with an undefined execution
3. Simple solutions with an unrealistic execution

None of these are what we are want, because what we all want is a simple solution with a simple execution. But if you can’t execute, there are no simple solutions. The only productive path forward is to look at the three scenarios above, and know how to get started. Knowing how to break down complex systems into manageable parts, knowing how to design systems where they don’t yet exist, and knowing how to manage expectations – these are the skills of a radical fundraiser.

The common excuse from smaller charities that they don’t have the budget for an agency or consultants. As if there’s a chest of trade secrets that agencies have access to that you don’t. The truth is, they don’t. The best ones are on top of their game because they’ve committed to their craft, and have made it part of their corporate culture to never stop improving. They search out great talent, and they care as much about your cause as you do.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well there’s no reason you can’t – or shouldn’t – be building a team on the same principles: commitment to one’s craft, continuous learning, and high talent standards.

If radical fundraising is a secret weapon for the small and medium-sized nonprofit, then the Radical Fundraiser has to be all of the above and more. Adaptable. Always learning, always testing. A chameleon. A sponge.

This post was by Brock Warner. Currently in Toronto, Brock works to foster and place value upon the act of philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As a professional, he values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much’ and desire to see the fruits of my labour and energy be a catalyst for positive change. Connect with Brock on Twitter at @BrockWarner.

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