"Stop the bleeding, start the breathing!"

"Stop the bleeding, start the breathing!"

bloody hand on wallThat's the first thing you learn to do in an emergency -- if you've got an arterial bleed, that'll kill you faster than lack of oxygen to the brain. So you do things in a logical order, dealing with the things that will kill you first.

It's the same with fundraising.


Okay, maybe a leap. But bear with me. 

When I see a group in financial trouble, the first thing I ask is, "How big is your email list?" Want to guess what the answer is most of the time?

You got it -- they don't have one. They don't send out newsletters, emails, or otherwise stay in touch with donors, adopters, and applicants. This is a huge mistake. 

OR,  even worse, they HAVE a list and and, "don't think it's appropriate," to contact their 500 plus adopters and ask them to help keep the doors open. (YES, I heard this exact statement from a rescue that ended up going under for a while.)

If you aren't talking to your supporters, if you're relying on one source of income and not developing your donor base, you're headed for trouble. 

I've asked several large shelters where their money comes from and most of them tell me, "One-third program fees (read: adoption fees), one-third donations and grants, one-third municipal/state entities."  That's how they do it. 

How to get started? Download your PayPal data and get the emails of everyone who's ever donated, Start SOME sort of email or newsletter program and start staying in touch with your donors.

Because if you don't -- someone else will.

Oh, and while I'm at it? Never run down another nonprofit. Look, there's room for everyone, and if you're not doing your job by developing your support base, it's not another group's fault.  There IS enough to go around. It's not a zero sum game.