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Creating a sense of urgency is critical to fundraising. Sometimes – as in disaster relief – the sense of urgency is “built in” to the cause. Other times you have to create it. Either way, urgency can increase impulse giving and action by those who have every intention to give but keep putting it off!

Here are two truths about fundraising: nonprofits can put off the work of fund development and fundraising until they feel their back is against the wall. And donors and funders can decide to give, and then take forever to make an actual gift or grant. There are always “good” reasons why these realities play out, and it is important to understand these. It is even more important to spot these “stalls” and get things moving again. Even better, proactively work to avoid these situations by deploying the power of urgency.

Disclaimer: we are not talking about discarding your plans and commitment to good direction. This is not about trying to accomplish miracles – or a year’s worth of work – overnight. Rather, we are encouraging you to build a sense of urgency into all your work plans and communications. Don’t put things off! Don’t let other things get in the way of your commitment to securing the funds you need. 

Here’s what we mean by the phrase “sense of urgency:” The ability to act now, in the present, to put all forces in motion.  We live in a culture where time is money, and people’s time feels so precious and valuable. Because of this you want people to decide to volunteer or give financially, knowing what they will be getting into and what they will be contributing to. Here’s the response you don’t want, “I wish I could help, but I have so many things pressing right now.”

People will know you respect their time: you’re not asking them to volunteer forever, just for an agreed upon period. You will build momentum and increase commitment. Your fundraising won’t drag on forever: you’ll be able to “get in and get out” quickly. Your organization will have the resources it needs to meet urgent needs. People will experience a sense of accomplishment, and your nonprofit will enjoy the fruits of good planning and the resulting increased capacity. Your stress will decrease, you’ll increase your time management skills, and you will find that your organization is able to attract leadership who have limited time to give. You can stay ahead of your competitors and the unknown to come!

Three closing points:

  1.   Always work with a timeline. Know what you need to accomplish by when.
  2.   Communicate the emotional impact of your work. Create a sense of urgency related to an immediate need. 
  3.   When making an ask, be sure to close with, “I’ll call next week to follow up and answer any questions.” Then make that call.  If you leave things open ended your request may languish, leaving you to wonder “will they give?”


Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2021 Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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