High-performance fundraising isn’t easy. It requires an investment and calls for changes in how things are done. Here’s a four-point program for investing in performance improvement:

Four1. Build a process-based, data-driven, highly leveraged, integrated fundraising organization. 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 staff and volunteer resources through a powerful data-driven system. In the development organization, “waste” and “defects” take many forms including loss of time, active management of low potential prospects and poor deployment of key advocates including board members. Utilizing the powerful tools of Lean Six Sigma provides an invisible infrastructure to guide the development process while continuing to honor the importance of donor-centric relationships.

2. Build a compelling, donor-centric breakthrough case for support. The role of the case in performance improvement tends to be overlooked. Your goal is to double or triple the amount you raise. That means you have to attract new major donors from outside your existing constituency by creating an urgent and compelling breakthrough case for giving that dramatically differentiates your mission in the marketplace. Only by attracting new major donors is achievement of significantly higher fundraising targets possible. And major donors are not going to switch from the beneficiaries they currently support unless your case catches their attention and gives them good reason.

3. Build an effective fundraising board structure and composition. Instead of the traditional governance-oriented board with members who have neither significant personal giving capacity nor the right connections, you can create a high-performance board composed entirely of donors — with a narrowly defined, less time-intensive, but highly valuable role. Board members should be enabled to use their own natural talents and skills to connect others to the mission by tapping the insights about how people share information and relate to each other in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point.

4. Build an organizational culture for philanthropy. For a long time, development professionals have been talking about the necessity of having a “culture of philanthropy.” More important is a culture for philanthropy focused on achieving the institutional alignment, engagement and embrace to create a platform for performance. Engagement of the right advocates, including board members, executives and physicians is key to creating a powerful case for support. Culture also involves strategically aligned project selection, appropriate investment in the development program, focus on grateful patients, systematic program evaluation, synergy with marketing to create one inspiring brand and other elements of integration between the supported health care organization and its philanthropic arm. Raising substantial sums requires the organization to position philanthropy as a strategic and valued revenue-creating endeavor.

Follow this four-point program to improve your fundraising efforts!

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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