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Don’t Let Fear Freeze You, Write A Plan: More From My Interviews With Kevin Gentry (Part 5 of 7)

Richard Viguerie
I have an idea for you.

Indeed, I woke up with the idea.

And with several cups of coffee starting early this morning, I’ve been turning the idea over in my head.

It’s something I intend to do, to take action on immediately.

And I thought I’d share the idea with you, in case it’s of value to you and your organization as well.

Today, I’m going to sit down and write a fundraising plan for organization X, but it could just as easily be a business plan for your business, church or nonprofit organization.

That plan is going to focus on four categories:





I’m going to spend 1-2 hours penciling out some rough thoughts on each of these four categories.  Then later today I’m going to return to what I’ve written and spell out my thoughts further.  Maybe I’ll revise some of my initial ideas entirely.

Then tomorrow morning, I intend to revisit this again.

Why am I going to do this?

Two reasons.

First, I’m not entirely sure what my fundraising (or business) priorities should be over the next 2-5 months as the coronavirus health crisis continues to play out.

If you’re like me, I’ve got lots of ideas.  Lots of ideas.  Maybe hundreds.

And if you’re also like me, you've been the recipient of so many good ideas from webinars, conference calls and emails under the banner of “How to fundraise in difficult times” (including those I’ve shared with you!), you don't know where to begin.

I've recognized I’ll never take action on any of these great ideas unless I have a plan and unless I prioritize the best ones.

Do you feel the same way?

Second, I’ve learned there’s tremendous benefit in simply writing a plan.

You might recall from a Fundraising Tip I sent on February 15 (doesn’t that seem like an eternity ago?), I shared some advice from direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie.  Richard is a big fan of writing a plan, and this is what he shared with us then –

The number one benefit of writing the plan is not to work the plan.  That’s important, but it is secondary.  The number one benefit is WRITING THE PLAN, because as you write the plan it helps to clarify your thinking.

I do this exercise 2-3 times a week.

As you write the plan, things will come into focus.  You will realize you need to do more of X, less of Y, and once you’ve finalized your plan, share it with others.  This will put pressure on you to follow through with your plan and others will want to help you.  It’s permissible to alter or change the plan, but it’s vital to start a new, major undertaking with a written plan.

What are your thoughts on this?

Here’s how I plan to tackle it:


What do we mean by “Vision?”

Consider the Book of Proverbs, 29:18 – “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

In Charles Koch’s 2007 book, The Science of Success, he devotes an entire chapter to Vision.  Here are some key excerpts:

How do we create a vision?  The development of an effective vision requires recognizing how [your] organization can create superior value for society and most fully benefit by it.

The process starts with a realistic assessment of [your organization’s] core capabilities (existing, improved or new) and a preliminary determination of the opportunities for which these capabilities can create the most value.

Even though a vision will change over time, it is essential to have a shared vision that is understood and embraced.

Every vision should answer the question, “What should we be striving to do?” and “How will we do it?”

An effective vision is the genesis of long-term success.


Next, what should our goals be, over whatever period of time we choose?

For my plan I’m developing today, I’m going to establish some short and near-term fundraising and engagement objectives.

What would good look like on June 1, September 1 and December 31?

Of course, the future is unknown and unknowable, especially right now during the coronavirus crisis.  Who knows what’s going to happen next?

Sure.  But let’s set some reasonable objectives for now.  They can always be adjusted as needed.



How are we going to get from A to B?

How will I get from today to those objectives I’ve set for June 1, etc.?

Strategy is a complicated term, often misunderstood and misapplied.  For me, strategy is what big, bold sweeping things must occur in order for me to have any hope of achieving my objectives?

Key strategies for me often revolve around marketing strategies, such as positioning.

What is my “hole in the marketplace” in the minds of my prospective supporters?  How will I differentiate myself from my competition?  What benefit do I offer to my supporters?  What is my brand?

Fundraising strategies could include a comprehensive direct marketing strategy, or a major gifts strategy revolving around a capital campaign.  It might be a multi-step communications strategy built around the development of a long-term narrative.



And finally, what specific steps must be taken, as part of the strategy, in order to meet my objectives?

And very importantly, how do I prioritize those steps?

In that same chapter from his book that I referenced above, Charles Koch writes –

Based on its vision, [your organization] needs to develop and implement strategies that will enable it to maximize its long-term value.  This requires setting priorities.

In a complex business, deciding the order in which to do things can be just as important as deciding what things to do.

He writes further about what criteria to apply in setting priorities, warning that without a methodology, “the tendency is to try to work on everything at once, which means nothing gets done quickly or well.”

Whew, a lot to do.

But I know what I’m doing the rest of this morning!

For this current coronavirus health crisis, surely this too shall pass.

You and I can’t afford to let fear immobilize us.  For the people whose lives we’re working to help improve, we can’t afford to get bogged down.

As Kathleen Patten and others shared in our conference call last week, FEAR PARALYZES   

A common reaction when people are facing a crisis is to freeze, do nothing and become paralyzed.  Almost always this is a serious mistake.   

People want leadership.  

You and your organization can step forward to provide the leadership that people seek.  

You might ask yourself -- How is your proposed solution to a problem at hand more relevant than ever before?

Will you let me know if this discussion today is helpful to you?

My plan is to follow up with you further on it tomorrow, especially as a result of the feedback that you and others share.

Until tomorrow,

Kevin Gentry

P.S.  If you’re like me, you’ve likely been on lots of Zoom and Teams calls or other forms of video conferences lately.  For a nice escape, you might enjoy this short video.  If you haven’t seen it already, it’s the French National Radio Orchestra performing Ravel’s Bolero.  May your next video conference turn into something this inspiring.

Click here for 1st interview (conservative mistakes).

Click here for 2nd interview (solutions).

Click here for 3rd interview (first of Viguerie’s Four Horsemen of Marketing).

Click here for 4th interview (Do you want more influence?)

For More Ideas Check This Fundraising Resource Book List

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