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Both art and science are needed to elevate fundraising performance. Applied together, the art and science of fundraising will help you forge stronger donor relationships.

The following are six imperatives in applying Lean Six Sigma principles for more effective fundraising.

  1. Focus on high-return activities

Focus on the mix of fundraising strategies that will significantly increase your ROI. A mark of a high-performing operation is a revenue mix of about 80% of total dollars coming from major gifts.

  1. Eliminate out-of-bounds process variance

Create a baseline development process and ingrain it in your culture. If you have a dozen gift officers—or if you are the only one—you will have one consistent way your organization goes about acquiring major gifts. You can then continuously improve that one way.

  1. Set key critical-to-quality process measures

Set key critical-to-quality process measures, with emphasis on cycle time. Establish a system for alerting you when a particular measure isn’t being met.

  1. Create abundant flow into the process

Use board members or volunteers as connectors because staff generally doesn’t move in circles where potential major gift donors are found. But don’t ask connectors to solicit gifts.

  1. Use high-cost, scarce resources to do only high-value work

Good development officers are truly a scarce resource. They should focus on cultivating prospects, not on making database entries or other routine tasks.

  1. Measure early, measure often

Use measures that help you see at key points whether you are on track for a positive outcome. Not only will you get what you measure, you will build a reliable forecasting system.

Next: Creating a Breakthrough Case for Support.

Previous: An Introduction to Fundraising Performance Improvement (FPI)

Check out the AFP Toronto Blog next Wednesday for Part 3 of Steve Reed’s series on Fundraising Performance Improvement.

Steve Reed lead the session R-04: Hope is Not a Strategy: New Approaches to Fundraising Based on Performance Improvement Principles at AFP Toronto’s Fundraising Day on June 8. He unpacked FPI based on blend of learnings from five organizations, including two in Canada, with fundraising staffs ranging from one FTE to nearly 50.

About Steve Reed

Steve Reed offers 30 years of experience in business development, executive search, fundraising, marketing, performance improvement and strategic planning. His work creating innovation and ideation processes, coupled with 20 years of experience as a fundraising consultant, led to a pioneering application of six sigma and lean principles in fundraising. Reed has planned and directed well over $100 million in campaigns. He has completed executive search assignments, moderated hundreds of consumer focus groups and facilitated numerous board and staff retreats and workshops. His professional memberships reflect a diversity of interests. He holds accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America, is a member of the Counselors Academy, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and its Chicago Chapter, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, and the American Marketing Association. Follow Steve Reed on LinkedIn.