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How to spark joy by tidying up your fundraising efforts

Posted February 27, 2019 by Virginia Davidson

tidying up fundraising plan

I’m one of those people who was instantly smitten when I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, back in 2014. When her show was released on Netflix, I happily binged the series and it renewed my affection for her KonMari method. It also got me thinking that some of her tips can be applied to fundraisers. If you’re in the mood for some spring cleaning, read on to learn how you can adapt the KonMari method to tidy up your fundraising efforts, clear out the clutter, and yes, spark joy.


Step 1: Imagine your ideal fundraising plan

Keeping your fundraising goals and mission in mind, in an ideal world what would comprise your development efforts? What would your fundraising plan look like?

Do you dream of achieving your organization’s financial goals with a robust and well-managed recurring giving program, a single annual event, and an effective planned giving program? Maybe you’d like to restructure your development efforts to be less dependent on events. You might feel that things are pretty much okay, but you know they would be even better if board members and colleagues were more tuned in to your efforts. Perhaps there are inefficiencies in your operations, and developing systems to streamline processes would ease your frustration.


Step 2: Discard

Go through those piles of paper that accumulate in your office and aim to send as much as possible to the recycling bin. Are those outdated remittance envelopes and slightly crumpled sheets of letterhead worth hanging onto? When that’s complete, turn your attention to your computer. If your desktop is cluttered with files, remove as much clutter as you can from that initial screen, and then go through your folders and delete what it is no longer needed.


Step 3: Tidy by category

Next, take out your fundraising plan and, using that as your guide, jot down all the elements of your development operations by category, such as special events, online giving, direct mail appeals, donor stewardship, and acknowledgment letters. You can still do this brainstorming exercise even if you aren’t currently working from a fundraising plan.

Get as specific as possible. Then, consider each item and think about how it’s working. Are there workflows you can tighten up for yourself? If you’re manually entering PayPal donations into your database, for example, explore an integration. Is there a particular special event that is labor intensive and doesn’t raise much revenue?

Reflecting back on your ideal fundraising plan, are there components of it that aren’t currently included in your development operations? What would it take to incorporate those ideas into it? What can you consider removing from your current plan in order to make room for new tactics?


Step 4: Ask yourself if it sparks joy

What pieces of your fundraising plan spark joy for you? You may not be able to completely offload the items that don’t, but by acknowledging what you truly enjoy, you might find ways you can maximize your involvement with those elements and at the same time, find ways to minimize your role with the elements you find less enjoyable.

Then, consider what sparks joy for your donors. Are your online forms visually appealing and simple to fill out? Do your acknowledgment letters give your donors a feeling of joy and satisfaction? Is your newsletter engaging? If you feel the answer is no, invest time into making updates that will delight your donors.



Just as it’s easy to accumulate clutter, it’s also easy for development operations to become bogged down by inefficiencies or to include elements that aren’t as effective as they could be. By following these adapted KonMari tricks, you can reinvigorate your fundraising plan and spark more joy for yourself and your donors.



6 thoughts on “How to spark joy by tidying up your fundraising efforts

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  4. The title cracked me up, but this is a fun, to-the-point overview! Thanks for making event the tiniest of non-profits feel like you JUST GET US. =)

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