Leaders in development are aware there are deficits – costs that must be covered and debts that must be paid.
This is not, however, what donors are interested in hearing.
What’s an organization to do?
What Do We Focus On?
It’s important not to think or talk in percentages – even internally – about development. This is simply because a cause and effect relationship is missing. If I tell you I need to increase giving by 25%, there isn’t an automatic response on your part. Our brains cannot and do not translate percentages into actions.
Development is all about who we are focusing on that might give at the levels required to achieve its goals.
Boards will often talk about budget in terms of percentages, but it just doesn’t matter.
Always talk back to them with the actual numbers so that you can say, “To hit this goal and this challenge that you have given us in our budget, what it means is that we will have to grow our giving from ‘this’ to ‘this,’ and, then, ‘this’ to ‘this.’”
Development is always effort-centered.
You can have a lot of effort that you put forward, but ultimately you cannot control what people give or when they give … if at all.
When you and your board are praying about your giving goals, it’s critical to ask:
- What is the effort needed to hit the giving goal?
- Are you willing to put forth this effort?
- Do you have people to talk to, to begin relationships with, and build to help achieve this goal?
How Do We Talk About It
Anytime you’re given a goal, I encourage you to look at all of your organization’s past giving. You’re looking for the potential giving range. Ask two important questions:
- Worst-case scenario, what might their giving be?
- What may best-case scenario giving look like?
Talking about actual numbers will lead you to the right questions:
- Who are the people who have given?
- What levels of decisions would have to be made to achieve our goal?
A goal is always achieved because a specific number of people gave at specific levels to achieve that goal. This is why we teach that you would never say, “Okay, all we need to do to raise $140,000 is get 140 people to give $1,000.” That will never happen. That plan never works. You can’t get a group of people to make exactly the same decision, at exactly the same timeframe. We don’t have that kind of reach to play those kinds of numbers games.
Ask the questions that can bring about action:
- How many people can we put forward effort with?
- How many of those will have to make decisions and at what levels to achieve that goal?
The potential is there. You have the power to influence. Circle the wagons and pray as a team for guidance on where and with whom to start. God is ready to move so take the first step!
As you continue to move toward reaching your giving goals, check out our Rapid Success Project tool. You may find it helpful to you along the way.