It’s money that makes the world round. While not everyone would want it put so bluntly, the truth is that for many organizations and institutions, money is one of the most-needed resources.
Ideas and programs abound, but it can be hard to find the money needed to bring these to life. The process of attracting money – and the leadership that will sustain giving over the years – is what fundraising is all about. Successful fundraising can be characterized by the following prerequisites for fundraising success.
1. Full commitment from executive director, board of directors and staff. Without this commitment, it is next to impossible to raise the money your organization or institution needs. People who are committed attend meetings, participate, share ideas, and generate an enthusiasm for the project. They believe that the funds can be raised, and they demonstrate that belief by making a personal gift, soliciting gifts from others, and helping secure in-kind resources. While it may take time to cultivate and secure the full commitment of an organization’s key stakeholders, this step cannot be pushed aside. Fundraising is a responsibility that must be fulfilled by leadership across the organization. It cannot rest on any one person’s shoulders.
2. Completion of a fundraising assessment and feasibility study. This study will provide necessary pre-campaign “market research,” and is used to:
a. Assess how your institution is perceived by the marketplace
b. Identify prospective donors and volunteers
c. Determine initial levels of financial and in-kind support available
d. Secure buy-in from key stakeholders
e. Create early awareness of intent to launch a campaign
f. Assess level of internal fundraising capacity.
3. A time-phased fundraising plan. This plan should include a detailed schedule of activities, a coordinated strategic solicitation plan, and roles and responsibilities for all who will be involved. It should identify sources of projected revenue, such as government/foundation grants, gifts from individuals, sponsorship by corporations, or funds from local civic and social organizations, and the steps needed to secure these. Remember to include some fun in your FUNdraising plan – people should enjoy working with your organization.
4. A compelling case for financial support. The case for support is at the heart of all fundraising. It needs to be clear, concise and compelling. It should make the case for why an individual, corporation or foundation should support your organization. Fundraising is a competitive endeavor, so you need to communicate how your project is unique. The “case” is the basis for verbal and written introductions, and solicitations. It should communicate:
a. Why your organization is a good investment.
b. What the money will be used for. How much is needed?
c. What will happen as a result of a donor’s or funder’s gift?
d. What is your organization’s track record? Your successes? Your goals for the future?
e. What will donors receive in return that is meaningful to them?
These are a few of the “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success.” Part two will discuss five more.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 901-522-8727.