This past week I had the opportunity to lead a webinar for the Run-Walk-Ride Fundraising Council, an organization designed to support fundraising professionals who focus on athletic fundraising.

The title of the presentation was “Doing More With Less” — and not surprisingly, given the difficult economic climate, a number of nonprofit professionals came on the call hoping to find ways to stretch, pull, and tweeze their dollars.

I opened the presentation by sharing the brutal fact that if we define “doing more with less” as literally increasing activity with fewer resources, we’re in for disappointment. It can’t be done; the immutable laws of physics will get in the way. Unfortunately, we cannot create something out of nothing.

However, if we define “doing more with less” as creating better results with fewer resources, then at least have a fighting chance of accomplishing something. More than a fighting chance, actually, because in my experience a great deal of fundraising activity does little more than occupy our time, while the true results come from a few key areas — specific groups of people, specific messages, specific appeals, and so forth.

The real key to thriving in times like these is not to put on another pot of coffee and double the number of hours you and your team are logging. The key is focus. Focusing on the donors, participants, tools, and areas that bring in the results requires an ability to identify those key areas, a willingness to redirect efforts to them, and a discipline to let other activities go. 

Focus is the watchword for fundraising in a difficult climate, and the organizations that understand that are not only coping well with the recession, they are well preparing themselves for the good times ahead. 

For more information and to listen to the entire webinar, click here. (For access to the slides referenced in the presentation, click here.)