Work Less, Raise More

Work Less, Raise More.

The Holy Grail

It’s the mythical Holy Grail of fundraising: working less while raising more.

For a nonprofit, that’s almost “playing against type.” It’s off-brand for the whole sector.  We HAVE to work more to raise more, right?

We even take pride in it sometimes.

But smart fundraisers are always looking for ways to work less while raising more.

Here’s how to think about it: what you want to do is create fundraising assets that you can use again and again with minimal effort.

A Partial List

Just to give you a taste, here’s a partial list of fundraising assets that organizations can use again and again with minimal effort:

  • Specific campaign appeals (Back To School, Grateful Patient, etc.)
  • Monthly donor recruitment letters/emails
  • Campaign Web Banners and homepage sliders
  • A fundraising offer
  • Donor acquisition mailings (or radio scripts, or telemarketing scripts)
  • Creative Briefs
  • Year-end emails
  • Social Media series

Fundraising Assets

What you’re trying to do is create fundraising assets:

  • Something you only have to create once
  • That you can use again with minimal effort
  • And when you need to use it again, you do so while spending the minimum amount of minutes and money to update it

Most nonprofits, in my experience, act as if it is a value to do everything new each year.  The first question the Event Committee asks itself is, “What should our theme be this year?”  When an ED writes her year-end letter, she asks, “What should I write about this year?”  The team asks, “What should our year-end campaign feature this year?”

I submit to you that those questions are not the best question to be asking.

The best question is almost always, “How did last year’s do and could I use it again with a little updating?”

I cannot tell you how many thousands of hours, and millions of dollars, I have saved clients with this approach.


Before I give you a couple of examples, go read this post on why “repeating” is such a good idea.

Here are three hand-picked examples for you for how something is an asset – and can be reused to raise more with less effort:

  1. You have a good fundraising offer. Say you have an email that gives donors a chance to ‘provide art supplies for a local child for $17.’  You can use that offer again next year at the same time, and try it at other times during the year.
    • We once had a client that had a very successful offer that they used once a year. I convinced them to try it twice and it worked great both times.  Four years later they were using that offer between 6 and 8 times per year and it was consistently their best performing mailed and emailed piece.  That offer was absolutely an asset; we refined it a bit each time to where it was a proven money-raiser with very little effort.  Talk about an asset for that organization!
    • We all know organizations that do this, from “$1.97 feeds a hungry person” to “$37 a month sponsors a child.” Even if those organizations get tired of saying those messages, they work so well that they keep using them.
  2. You have a successful event that goes really well. Next year, you can repeat the same call to action, the exact same program (with new speakers), talking about the same thing.  The only people who will notice the similarity are your staff and a couple of board members.  To everyone else, it will look like you are really good at events and you really have your act together.
  3. You have a successful letter, say your year-end letter. When it comes time for this year’s year-end letter, here’s what to do: take out last year’s letter, dust it off, change only what you need to, and send it again.  Don’t change the formatting, don’t change the call to action, just send it again.  Just as no one complains to Ford when they see the same truck commercial five times in one week; no donor will complain that your letter last year was awfully similar to this year’s letter!

Here’s the thing: anytime you do something that works in fundraising, you’ve just created an asset.

Recognize it.  Keep it around.  Get comfortable reusing it.  Your donors will love you for it.  Because if something works well, it’s almost certain that it will work again.

Pretty soon you’ll be raising more money while working less!

Assets For Sale

Our year-end products are for sale right now (the “bundle” is over half-off!).

Use them to create a ‘year-end campaign asset’ for your organization!  Pick up our Digital Toolkit, or our packet of super successful fundraising letters, and upgrade your year-end fundraising.

You’ll raise more money this year.  Then treat it like an asset: in 2019 you’ll work less and raise more!


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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