Planning Model #2
The Three Lane Approach
All nonprofit organizations, large and small, raise funds in accordance with the same basic principles. The extent to which organizations execute their plans efficiently (cost per dollar raised) and effectively (goal achievement) ultimately distinguishes between those organizations that consistently achieve their goals and those that do not. To understand the basic principles, we have designed a systems map that characterizes three lanes, like the three beltway lanes encircling a city, running parallel to each other in concentric circles.
In The Three Lanes Approach, each lanes represents an important phase of the fundraising experience that donors inevitably move through as they support an organization’s mission. The three lanes approach is not a rigid prescriptive plan; rather it is a below-the-surface understanding of how effective fundraising really works. In addition to providing a framework for planning and evaluating the program’s overall performance, the three-lanes approach addresses common roadblocks that organizations routinely encounter as they cultivate their donors through greater levels of commitment as well as the dividing of roles and responsibilities between paid professionals and volunteers, the setting and assessment of goals, and the alignment of the mission.
Each lane is intended to compliment the subsequent lane. The first lane assumes a new donor who may or may not be giving at a level consistent with their capacity. The middle lane assumes an active donor who has expressed a genuine interest in and commitment to the mission through their initial gifts and is receptive to meaningful engagement with the organization. The third lane assumes an active donor who has developed a meaningful relationship with the organization and has made the decision to make a very significant, multi-year commitment to the organization.
The risk inherent in expanding a fundraising program is the application of first lane logic to the subsequent lanes. Lanes two and three are focused on soliciting current donors for subsequent gifts (renewal and stewardship), whereas the first lane is focused on the acquisition of new donors and new gifts. The renewal lanes align closely with indicators of quality relationships and effective goal achievement whereas the first lane aligns with increasing the quantity of relationships and the efficiency with which monies are raised. Whereas the new donor expects to be courted like a new acquaintance, the existing donor prefers being recognized as loyal friend.