Hope appears to be a popular strategy for fundraising.

A confidential study we conducted within five major nationwide faith-based health systems revealed that chief executive officers believe, on average, that they are raising half or less of the money they should be able to raise.

HopeThose same CEOs expressed optimism about how much their organizations’ fundraising will improve. All but a handful expect to raise more money in the future — but they provided little rationale for this confidence other than the need for philanthropy is increasing and the economy will improve.

Just hoping for better results doesn’t work. Hospital leadership must invest in building an organization that focuses on high-performance fundraising. Generalizations are always dangerous, but experience has led us to identify these 10 key issues:

  1. Reliance on special events and annual giving as principle fundraising strategies, which results in a high cost-per-dollar raised as well as a smaller overall amount.
  2. Foundation boards not aligned to major gift fundraising, which orients the program toward only smaller gifts and overly relies on staff work.
  3. Executive and physician leadership not oriented to fundraising as a leadership responsibility, which leaves the fundraising staff without the influence that executives have in the community and that physicians have with grateful patients.
  4. Cases for support that are inwardly focused on meeting operational and capital needs seen by management, and do not inspire the excitement necessary to attract high-dollar board members and donors.
  5. Inadequate stewardship programs, which lead to poor donor retention and a higher fundraising cost to acquire new donors.
  6. Staff organizational structures that promote neither effective teamwork nor performance-oriented specialization, causing inefficient and ineffective use of time.
  7. Absence of multiyear strategic development plans and performance metrics, which leads to static or declining levels of investment and little or no year-to-year improvement.
  8. Disconnects between fundraising operations and the institutions they support, which lead to inappropriate goals and cases as well as organizational behaviors that do not support a climate for fundraising success.
  9. Lack of process, rigor and accountability resulting in wasted time, poor follow up with potential donors and lackluster results.
  10. Relatively small staffs and inadequate resources compared to the potential that could be raised, which leads to leaving large amounts of money on the table.

Is there a better answer than hope? Emphatically, yes! Apply quality principles for performance improvement in fundraising.

Today, hospitals are embracing process as the key to improving quality, safety and costs, and they are beginning to adopt the quality improvement principles used in manufacturing, such as those employed in Toyota’s “Lean” and GE’s Six Sigma programs. A Lean organization strives to cut waste and increase value for customers by creating an efficient flow of products and services. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach to eliminate defects in any process. When you combine the methodologies, Lean Six Sigma emphasizes speed, reduced waste and making the best use of resources through a powerful data-driven system.

This post is an excerpt from Steve’s forthcoming book – Hope is Not a Strategy: Performance Improvement in Fundraising.

img via polsifter

Major gift fundraising

Steve Reed
Steve Reed is Chairman and CEO of Marketing Partners, Inc., a business improvement and marketing services organization formed in 1983. He is also president of its Performance Advantage subsidiary which specializes in business process and organizational performance improvement. He is also founding partner of the Fundraising Performance Institute. http://www.mpicompanies.com