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Fundraising the SMART Way: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity, + Website by Ellen Bristol

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Chapter 8The Breakthrough: Continuous Improvement

Of all the myriad business processes that keep a nonprofit functioning, the fundraising process may be the most strategic, even if it's not the first thing your constituents think about when your charity's name is mentioned. Without steadily growing income, you can't fulfill your mission. Yet fundraising is the function least likely to be touched by the benevolent hand of continuous improvement. And that's a shame, as so many development executives have bemoaned after they were shown the door. Asking people to produce better results without giving them the tools to do so is either unfair, ill-informed, or both.

In my quest to apply performance management disciplines to the function of fundraising, I discovered, or maybe I should say rediscovered, the importance of continuous improvement. Without the disciplines of continuous improvement, the productivity and effectiveness of fundraising efforts might not change all that much. It's easy to slide back into management by anecdote and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.

While the Scorecard, Donor Moves, and development drivers provide the metrics, and your reporting methods provide business intelligence or feedback, you still need ways to analyze and interpret results and decide what, if anything, needs to be changed. This is where the formal skills of continuous improvement come into play. I introduced some techniques in Chapter 7, such as the use of open-ended, nonjudgmental questions ...

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