Making Your Development Strategy More Strategic

Development strategy

Every nonprofit has to think about their development strategy. Money is always on all of our minds and is always a challenge.

The thing about making your development strategy more effective is that you have to consider both your external efforts, but just as importantly you need to spend the time necessary to also make certain that your internal thinking and your overall mission is pointed in a direction that supports your development efforts.

Over the years, I have found that getting this balance hinges on your ability to ask yourself and your organization the right questions. Here are some of the key questions that I use when I work with my clients.

Here are a few questions to guide your internal thinking:

 1. What is your mission?

How is the world going to be better when you solve the issue you are tackling? What is the thing that you do that only you can do and that creates the most meaning in the world? This is where you start. Lead with your mission.

2. Who do we help?

Are you clear on the people that you really help? What about the people that donate and support you? How do you provide value to them? You need to understand that the people you help are both the end users of your services, but also the people that are key donors and stakeholders in your community.

3. What is the value our customers expect?

When was the last time you talked with your users, donors, and stakeholders about what their expectations are? Do you know what they actually expect or love about what you do? You have to be really clear on this or you may be limiting your impact.

4. What are the results that we expect?

Have you even set expectations for your organization? Do you know what success looks like? Or, have you done the “we will know it when we see it move?” You have to spell out clear expectations and measures for your organization.

5. What is our plan?

How are you going to accomplish your mission? How are you going to deliver your services? How are you going to create change? Think long and hard about what you really need to do to achieve your goals and wed that to a plan that allocates your resources most effectively.

That’s the internal stuff. You need to get your internal focus right before you ever look outward because without your focus in the right place, your development efforts won’t have an impact.

Once you know where you are going.

Here are some questions to guide your external facing strategy:

1. What is the value we create for our clients and our donors?

You don’t just think that donors give out of the goodness of their hearts, do you? Some do, but not everyone. So you need to spend some time identifying both the value you deliver to your clients, but just as importantly what value you deliver for your donors. Without this knowledge, your communications efforts will be a lot less effective than they could be.

2. Who has the money to support our mission?

If you have an understanding of what your mission is and what your donors value, knowing where to turn your focus becomes easier. Most importantly, think about the specific point of decision that you need to reach and focus your thinking and outreach on this person or people.

3. How do we reach them?

In a lot of organizations, we fall into the trap of doing things the way that we have always done them. But if you know whom you are trying to reach and influence specifically, you can often do something different. Instead of dry, boring solicitation letters, maybe you now have the means to speak or write about something that will influence that person. Perhaps that person shares a connection with you in the community. The big key is understanding value and who has the money allows you the chance to focus your efforts in a meaningful manner. No more doing an advertising or marketing campaign just because everyone else is doing it.

The big key to remember is that a successful development strategy relies on a holistic effort to align the internal with your external efforts.

Dave Wakeman

DAVE WAKEMAN is known as “The Revenue Architect” and works with organizations around the globe on building profitable and sustainable revenue structures for their organizations. Get his weekly newsletter on value. Visit his website for his daily blog.

Fundraising