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Project Management Tips for Sustainable Fundraisers

By JaMika Rivera posted 11-15-2021 08:01


Co-authored by Ashley Gatewood, MA

A haphazard fundraising plan can mean your team is in for a white-knuckle ride. Efficiency and realistic planning are the name of the fundraising game, and one of the strongest ways to ensure your team’s success is to follow tried-and-true project management frameworks.

You may think project management is just for techies. Rest assured, it can supercharge your fundraising endeavors, too!

When you engage in an “investor’s mindset,” you extract the most out of daily operations, donor prospecting, volunteer management, and securing the gift. An investor’s mindset means putting your money and efforts behind practices and initiatives that lead to your desired outcomes and yield favorable returns.

Here are the top three things organizations should consider an investor’s mindset:

Proper capture & management of data

When your organization tracks its efforts and captures data, you gain the power to leverage that information to make smart decisions about operations and initiatives. For instance, we’ve all heard ad nauseum how important database hygiene is. But how many of our organizations are committed to doing it right?

If your organization is deficient in data, don’t be surprised to find yourself unable to properly plan projects while at a loss to monitor and control execution.  You’ll likely suffer from having few details that offer effective measurement of efforts.

Data is crucial for:

  • planning standard operating procedures
  • forming plans and strategies around organizational initiatives
  • setting goals
  • measuring delivery

For example, an organization that does not track the number of website visitors, frequency of website visitors, and work productivity will have a hard time planning trainings, meetings, and initiatives that will help the organization best meet its mission.

A lack of data makes it difficult to write competent grants or create compelling “asks” for potential donors. When you don’t accurately depict data to substantiate your needs, you set yourself up for a measurement nightmare where you’re almost destined to fall short of your goals.

Remember, data is the magic dust that gives leadership the ability to effectively manage stakeholders’ expectations and needs.

Tools That Complement Practices

CRM software is to donor management as project management tools (i.e., Asana or Salesforce) are to resource and project management.

By using tools that complement your practice, you will boost the probability of effective management. Tools like Asana make it a cinch for leadership to implement techniques such as “schedule compression” when resources are scarce and timely project completion without changing the scope is critical.

Project management software guides planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and documenting day-to-day practices while offering an intuitive and adaptive source to make pivots and adjustments when need be.

The fact that the practice and the tools work in concert with one another can provide you with a much-needed opportunity to align the “head” and the “heart” of your organization. Complementary tools and practice are the golden keys to favorable agreement of intention and impact.

Continuing Education & Development

What organizations do and how they do it is constantly evolving. As society and industry practices change, your organization’s staff and volunteers should be abreast of these changes and know how to execute going forward.

Effectively trained staff are able to navigate and use software/tools optimally, execute tasks and processes with competence/empowerment, and calibrate efforts/ideas with leadership.

Never skimp on continuing education. It is paramount for all staff at every level. Every player should be aware of their role and responsibilities within a given task or the organization as a whole.

Not only do volunteer and support staff need to understand the principles behind proper planning and execution, leadership must understand the practice and methodology behind effective monitoring, controlling, and support.

Gaps in education cause rubs in your ability to cohesively complete projects. Your board may find it difficult to support the efforts of an Executive Director if they are not tuned into the practice the ED is proposing. More problematic still, an Executive Director may struggle to support development staff when they are not familiar with new practices and the data that substantiates why a particular practice is favorable.

Conversely, organizations that value continuing development for all will enjoy improvements in culture, as well as working knowledge of how to support everyone’s efforts.

Consistent consideration and application of these fundamentals will lead to a defined framework for your organization. By leveraging project management principles in fundraising, you will put yourself on track to methodically work towards your goals and see your desired results come to life.

Consistency is key and with that key, the door to your sustainable funding can be unlocked.