Zero to fundraising in how many seconds?

February 24, 2008

Posted in Non-Profits.

That’s right, we haven’t been fundraising. I cringe when I read articles about how to keep fundraising during a recession because we weren’t even doing this when the economy was strong! We used to get our funding from one major agency, but that has dried up and left us wondering how we’ll replace that source.

So my job is to take us from zero to… well, somewhere. And that’s where I’m starting.

Define the somewhere

Fundraising is goal-oriented. You determine your needs based on your goal. You create a strategy to reach your goal. You measure your success against your goal. If you don’t have a goal for your fundraising, you won’t be able to focus your efforts enough to stand out.

I haven’t been doing this long, but I’ve learned one thing – donors prefer to give for a cause. Heating your office and paying your staff isn’t a cause. Creating a new program, saving more people from starvation, or building a new hospital – these are causes. And people can get behind a cause. Your job, at the outset and on a continued basis, is to align your fundraising goal with the cause.

One of the first tasks for my committee is to identify our funding needs and priorities. These will come from the programs, the leadership, the board, etc. They should be guided by the strategic plan (which we also don’t have, but are working on). This is the basis for setting our goals.

Find a starting point

At the very least, we’ve done some small fundraising efforts. We’ve held fundraising events that raised anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. We’ve applied for a few grants. We have a database that hasn’t been seriously maintained and that nobody really knows how to use. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Point A to Point B

So we have the starting point and a goal (not that I’m not calling it the ending point). How you get from start to goal is the big discussion. That’s called your strategy. And without a strategy, you’re traveling without a map.