“How do we double our program’s revenue?” is a question we hear a lot, and not just from the peer-to-peer fundraising directors, but also from the very senior level people in an organization.
Personally, regardless of who is asking, I love this question because it supports a “go big or go home” mentality, and yet, at the same time, it strikes me as lazy. Maybe I have the wrong perception, but I often sense a little glibness and naiveté in the question as it seems to suggest that there is a magic easy button that Plenty can provide. It is an attractive image, we hit the button and voila – buckets of money (maybe even ice bucket money – no easy button for that either.) The fact remains, we need to ask big questions that will challenge the assumptions limiting our ability to get to the desired next level of growth, which in this case is a massive exponential goal of doubling (or even tripling) revenue.
So what is the right question to ask? For me, when I hear organizations asking, “How do we massively scale our fundraising program at the same or better ROI?”, I know we are in business. More specifically, there are three questions to consider the next time the conversation around doubling revenue arises:
1. “If we double or triple our net income – what impact will result?” We unfortunately often have weak and uninspiring answers, when we actually need an answer that quickens our pulse and makes the hair on the back of our neck stand up.
We can achieve this outcome by starting with impact – not revenue. Very few get excited about a revenue number, but many get fired up about funding that innovative and potentially groundbreaking grant, saving one more life every day, saving 10 more dogs from the shelter a month, or whatever gets our juices in the organization going.
2. The second question to ask is, “Can we, the leadership team, get aligned and committed around the prioritization of the goal?” You heard us talk about disagree and commit and other leadership dynamics that support high-performing organizations. When push comes to shove, will we (the leaders) in the organization sing from the same song sheet and stay focused on achieving the goal? If we have leaders with differing agendas, we will not be able to achieve our goals.
Misalignment among team members is not uncommon, the key is to make sure our teams have a way to get at the issue head-on. If we don’t currently have a process in place for surfacing these issues, we need to get one. Without it, this goal or any other is being undermined by our inability to work collaboratively towards our team objectives.
3. Lastly, “Can we invest and navigate bumps in the road to achieve our goal?” We are embarking on a very bold and challenging initiative. We need to invest in new ways of doing things. We need to invest in recruiting, training, and supporting the people that will ultimately achieve our goals. And we know this – but it is worth restating, success will not be instantaneous, we will hit multiple points where we doubt whether we are on the right track or not. But we must continue to invest and work in those times of uncertainty. Insert cliché here about it’s darkest before the dawn or what have you, but be rest assured, that these moments will come and we need to persevere when they do.
If we can answer these three questions in the right way, we are organizationally ready to build a plan for revenue growth. One of our most important jobs we have with our clients is to help them do that, raise more revenue. We get jazzed about this work. You can start that process by asking about the key questions of readiness. Specifically, when asking about what is possible, remind yourself that the possible is achieved through having an enticing vision of impact and then committing yourself to the gritty and hard knuckled work of achieving that vision.
And guess what? We would love to help you.
If you're not yet ready to work with Plenty, but looking for strategic fundraising help download our free e-book "The Seven Success Factors" for a deep dive into the seven areas of your program responsible for growth and how you can optimize each one.