Reactive or Proactive

June 30, 2010

There are numerous different strategies for raising money. Some organizations are long-term planners and set-up a development plan that they use as a road map throughout the year. Other organizations watch and wait for the right time to send out that perfect appeal. Following a plan and rapidly responding to changing community needs are both valuable and important fundraising skills. Often organizations fall on one side or the other of that line with a perspective that is either proactive or reactive when it comes to donor management.

Reactive and proactive donor management really are opposites. Reactive donor management provides you an opportunity to approach individual donors in a very focused and personal way. Often you can provide very custom thank you materials and have the flexibility to respond to urgent and last minute requests and opportunities. Proactive donor management involves the creation and adherence to a development plan. Those who excel at being proactive will plan out all of their campaigns for the year and the time line it will take to make those campaigns a success. Proactive management usually allows a development program to accomplish more in a given year, but it may not allow for as much last minute polishing of a project or solicitation plan.

It surprises me how little these two style of donor management are blended together. What kind of donor management style has your organization adopted? Any tips on how to be both proactive and reactive at your organization?