January is always a good time to brush off those fundraising cobwebs and make a resolution to do something new/different. One of my resolutions for 2017 is to make sure I’m asking the right questions to start the kind of conversations that lead to change. You know, those awkward questions, those ones that no one really knows how to/wants to answer...so...to get a bit of practice in, here’s five questions to give you some a few ideas about some things you can do to start change in 2017.
1. Do you know your priorities for improving donor experience?
It’s been a hot topic in 2016, but it’s one thing talking about it and another thing completely to actually do something. We all like to think we’re donor friendly, but there’s always more to do. There is a wonderful list from Ken Burnett and Giles Pegram of ideas and priorities for improving the donor experience, they’ve done the hard work so I’ll leave it with you... http://101fundraising.org/2016/11/changing-fundraising-good/
2. Are your measurements meaningful?
What are your measures of success? Are they actually helpful? If you ONLY measure income it can make your fundraising very one dimensional – what about measuring things like... number of donor enquiries/contacts, retention rates (do you know them? If not, why not!), second gift rates, how many donors decreased or increased their appeal gifts? What are you going to do about it? It’s not all about numbers either. Think about behaviours – because these are really good indicators to what might happen next. Pick something new to monitor in January 2017 and in December track back and see what happened. Get together with other fundraisers in real life or here on Charity Connect and agree to do the same thing...voila! You now have a benchmark. 
PS Have a look at this free feedback widget from the folks at Donor Voice - giving you a head start in tracking donor satisfaction... .http://donorfeedback.thedonorvoice.com/ 
3. Are you asking your donors the right questions? Make a resolution to ask your donors at least one thing this year...and make it important. We know that we should be asking donors what they think of their experience, but one more important question can make all the difference. By asking your donors to input on a decision you need to make you are showing them that you TRUST them...this releases Oxytocin, which is a happy chemical linked to generosity and empathy. Make your donors feel valued and a bit more like they have a voice that matters. If you need any further convincing, watch this TED talk by the fascinating Paul Zak- 
4. Are you taking the time to look outwards?
No more navel gazing, get out there and read what’s going on! Blogs are great ways to get ideas, think differently, spark thought processes and improve on your learning. There are some great ones out there! Use twitter and linked in – some of my favourites include 101fundraising (http://101fundraising.org),  The Agitator (http://www.theagitator.net/), UK Fundraising (http://fundraising.co.uk/category/blog/)  and Mark Phillips Queer Ideas (http://www.queerideas.co.uk/my_weblog/) and of course, new kid on the block, Charity Connect!
 5. How much time are you wasting?
This is one for the time management police. Meetings. Some are more productive than others... but almost all of them could be more time effective. What else could you achieve if you cut just 10% of the time you spend in meetings – what would that mean financially? How would that work across the whole of the fundraising team? What would that add up to? Do you even need a meeting or could you get the same result by phone or skype? Make every meeting 10% shorter and you’ll save loads in salary alone! This calculator is ace... https://hbr.org/2016/01/estimate-the-cost-of-a-meeting-with-this-calculator set yourself a target and see how much money you can make in saved time and increased fundraising capacity!
So there you have it, just a few ideas for some small changes that could make a big difference. So let's start a conversation. What's the one thing you'll do differently in 2017 or the one question you will ask to start that process of change?