[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

Accentuate the Positive

imageA popular song from 1944 shared this timeless advice: “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with mister in-between!” Sung by Bing Crosby in the ’40s, Perry Como in the ’50s, Ella Fitzgerald in ’60s, and with covers in every decade following, the message stands the test of time.

For nonprofits, this means starting with a list of your organization’s positives and negatives. This list may be generated by staff and board members, but every nonprofit could really benefit from a more objective perspective. If you haven’t done it recently, enlisting an outside group to assess your strengths and barriers to advancement – from the public’s point of view – is a great idea.

Once that information is in hand, take these lessons to heart:

Accentuate the positive

Whatever you do well, double down on your efforts. Do people like that you participate in community events? Then, schedule more next year. Do they hold your executive director in high regard? Then, get events on the calendar for more presentations and appointments with existing and prospective donors. Put more energy into doing what you do well.

Eliminate the negative

Yes, it’s uncomfortable to hear that no one knows your board members, or that the public doesn’t have a clear understanding of your mission, or that your brand and signage need updating… or a dozen other things. But it’s good to hear what’s wrong. Use that information to get a game plan. If it doesn’t work, stop doing it.

Don’t mess with mister in-between

Focusing on a list of positives to accentuate and a list of negatives to eliminate will keep you busy and help you avoid spinning your wheels on projects that zap your time and resources without a commensurate upside. If it’s getting you nowhere, and taking a majority of your time and energy, it’s not worth doing.

If your nonprofit is ready to invest its time and resources wisely – as well as raise more money for the mission – consider having a professional help you assess, objectively, where you are now. It might not be where you think you are. That way, you can get where you should be by this time next year!

Bud Cooper, Executive Vice President, [email protected]

logoJoin Us on the Growing Philanthropy Tour

Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook’s mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:

Grapevine, Tex.
February 1, 2019

IGNITE 2019: Conference
Sustainable Fundraising
Karin Cox

Inverness-shire, Scotland
February 4-6, 2019

The Great Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

London
February 7-8, 2019

LSE Annual Behavioural Public Policy Lecture
Grantham Centre
John List

San Diego
February 12, 2019
2019 NSFA National Conference
Demystifying the Major Gift Campaign
Karin Cox

Inverness-shire, Scotland
March 4-6, 2019

Think Double! Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

Past Stops on the Tour

Resources for Smart Fundraising Available on Kindle

Keep up to date on the latest fundraising trends with the Kindle ASR Media collection:

  • Fundraising Leadership – The definitive source for empowering board members to become pro-active fundraising leaders by Karin L. Cox
  • Performance-Driven Fundraising – Handy, yet entertaining reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers by Matthew J. Beem

Book Deal of the Monthimage

Hartsook President and CEO Matthew J. Beem’s book Performance-Driven Fundraising: Taking Control of Your Success shares decades of fundraising insights and features campaign success stories. Performance-Driven Fundraising will help accelerate anyone’s learning curve and serve as a valuable reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers. Go here for a special price of $10 (plus shipping and handling).

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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].