• Paper Plane Consulting

Use Caution. Steep Downgrade

Updated: Dec 23, 2019


Trail running has inspired me to write a series of development posts using metaphors that I notice as I tick off the miles.

Let’s start here. Use Caution. Steep Downgrade


There are so many metaphors I think of concerning development as I pass this sign. I should note that I first noticed this sign on the way down.


That got me to thinking...are our organizations too dependent on angel donors or seemingly reoccurring #majorgifts?


Think about it next time you are asked by your CEO or board member about your fundraising projections for the upcoming year.


Have you included that six-figure gift that has been secured for the past three years? If so, what are you going to do, if that donor passes away unexpectedly this year? Think about the impact on your projections and more importantly, on your organization and its mission.


If you are the one putting pressure on your development team to produce projections without a clear path and plan to get them there, stop it! Development is not the plug for your deficit budget problem.

Development projections are only as good as the portfolio of donors that make up the potential, the case, and the person(s) asking.


Use realistic and identifiable prospects in your budgeting process and then push your development team to reach a bit farther in a secondary projection sheet. Ask them the essential questions around fundraising that are not directly tied to dollars but are attributed to every successful development shop.

1. The number of new prospects they are working to identify each month.

2. The number of phone calls they are making each week. YES, I said phone calls!

3. Making sure they have a stewardship plan in place to meaningfully engage donors in between asking for money.


Don’t be caught with a Steep Downgrade in your revenue this year.

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