“Be cost-effective.” That is the mantra of most fundraising departments – and for good reason. Donors are concerned about overhead, though it is often misunderstood and an imprecise way to measure effectiveness. Nevertheless, we must care about overhead because our donors care about it – but at the same time, it can’t be an excuse for incomplete fundraising strategies or discontinuing efforts that build and maintain strong relationships.

There is no “one size fits all” fundraising strategy. Your challenge is to determine which fundraising options will develop sustainable donors. What fundraising activities will communicate with the people who believe in your cause and have enough disposable income to be committed donors?

Marketing textbooks often use a matrix to divide products into four groups: dogs, cash cows, rising stars and question marks. Cash cows have a high market share but lower income potential. Rising stars, on the other hand, also have high market share and higher income potential. Depending on your fundraising program, you likely have a mix of “products” – some are old standbys that produce steady income by are relatively unspectacular, while others that look promising but may not have a long track record.

Unfortunately, we often hang on to “products” out of habit – an event that has been in decline for the last several years, a newsletter that gets little or no response, or a Facebook page that is virtually ignored. The secret is not to throw these things out, but rather to look at them with a critical eye and see if there is a way to make them stronger parts of our fundraising mix.

This month, think about balance in your fundraising. Start by asking yourself, “What should I do differently in 2018 to attract a new group of donors, take advantage of a fundraising program that is succeeding, or revitalize a fundraising staple that is in decline?

Balance isn’t about doing things without cautious planning, but it isn’t always about playing it safe, either. Committing to improving a fundraising tool or launching a new one that is sustainable is a great resolution for this new year.