A Fundraising Platform Without Expertise Is Going to Get You a Soggy Bottom

Meg WeberConsultantSeptember 21, 2021

Using a fundraising platform without the right guidance and expertise can have a lot of adverse effects on your philanthropy, but a soggy bottom? Let me explain what I mean.

Like many people, I watched a lot of Netflix during quarantine. The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is one of my favorite things to watch. If you’re not familiar with the show, it consists of insanely talented amateur bakers creating various confections and being judged by professionals. The worst sin for a baker on that show is turning in a baked good with a soggy bottom. The highest honor for the bakers in the GBBO is a handshake from Paul Hollywood.

There are three components to each episode, and the most difficult is called the Technical Bake. This is where the bakers are all given the same ingredients and a partial recipe for a tasty treat. The judging of the final baked goods are judged blind and ranked from worst to best.

So what does my favorite comfort TV viewing have to do with getting the most out of your fundraising platform?

Here’s the answer: many of us our operating our advancement shops in the same environment as a technical bake. We all have the same tools available to us. We may scale them up or down depending on the resources available. But often what is missing from our operations is that we are missing the instructions on how to take these tools and turn them into a strategic, well-executed donor engagement strategy.

The ingredients for your donor engagement recipe matter

Fundraising Platform blog by Meg Weber: Image of a kitchen with bread baking
Your fundraising bakery needs more than ingredients to avoid a “soggy bottom.”

The most important ingredient in your “donor engagement bake” is your software platform. Software is like the yeast or the baking powder in a recipe. It’s working hard in the background, making things move and hopefully rise. And let’s be honest, most engagement software has pretty comparable capabilities. We’re now able to do calling, texting, email, video (ThankView, for example) within the same platforms.

Even though more platforms may contain these channels, the specifics are what separate the good from the great. Simply having these abilities in a platform will not do you much good if the platform is not easy to use, if it lacks excellent reporting, and if it does not have true channel integration. And all that data you collect won’t do much good if you don’t have a direct flow of data to your CRM and to your team. A bad platform is like buying expired yeast vs. fresh yeast. The question for your “technical bake” of donor engagement is: Which platform is going to make your bake better?

How do you go from a soggy bottom to a handshake with your donor engagement?

Baking problems happen when you know what you’re trying to make, but your recipe is incomplete. What if you have the baking powder or the yeast, but no idea how much to use? Too little and your baking will be flat and uninspired. Too much and your creation will be all over the inside of your oven. You have to get it right. In fundraising, not getting it right can lead to wasted budget, annoying donors, or totally missing people who are ready to give. The stakes are high. You want that handshake.

Do you and your team have the technical knowledge and experience to produce a finished product when only given limited or minimal instructions? That’s often the deal with engagement platforms. You have all the tools, but very little support. We’ve seen a number of platforms promise donor engagement by repurposing other technology, luring us in with a bargain, and just basically leaving us in the kitchen.

That’s why RNL’s ‘baking tools’ come with expertise, advice, strategy and a community. RNL Engage and Scalefunder were built with the needs of advancement shops in mind. Nothing we provide is repurposed from sales software—the platforms were created by advancement professionals, for advancement professionals, and with a whole lot of feedback from our RNL client partners.

What’s more, with RNL platforms, you also get people. RNL experts bring a depth of experience, industry knowledge, and a spirit of innovation to every partnership. We’ve all been in your shoes. We love engaging donors, and we’re providing more than just ingredients. Along with getting your kitchen running, we offer complete recipes to make your engagement efforts the best.

Sometimes that’s extra guidance, training, or professional development targeted to enhancing your program. Sometimes, it’s just examples from peers—connections to other advancement professionals, your fellow “bakers” who are trying to have the same impact. It’s also real testing that we’ve done with pilot clients to see what works best. And always, it’s watching the data to see trends, from the largest laboratory of donor response available.

You’re already in a high stakes bakeoff. You have goals to meet, and you don’t want a soggy bottom. So drop us a line and we’ll tell you how the RNL community can ensure that you are on your way to earning that handshake from your best prospects.

About the Author

Meg Weber

Meg Weber is a strategic fundraising expert with over two decades of experience in higher ed advancement. She serves as an industry luminary and expert on advancement topics for her RNL strategic partners. Previous Experience Previously, Meg...

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