Raising funds to support the
philanthropic mission of any non-profit organization can be a time consuming
chore often fraught with trial and error.
While splashy one-off fundraisers
(otherwise known as 'episodic funding') can generate a large chunk of
charitable change they can also consume much needed resources for months on
end. At the other end of the spectrum, 'ongoing' fundraising tactics, while easier
to execute, oftentimes don't generate the required financial rewards.
To succeed in
fundraising, your non-profit must diversify its efforts to strike a balance
between episodic and ongoing fundraising activities that ensures multiple
streams of income for the medium and long term. This means having a long term
these five tips and tactics for optimizing your non-profit's fundraising activities:
1. Tell Your Story - Create a Case Statement
Much like a
business elevator pitch (only longer), a case statement is a brief one or two
page document that clearly informs potential donors about who you are and how
their donations to your cause can make a positive difference. It is the story of your cause, and the part
played by your donors to support that cause.
statement is a useful tool for focusing your message and objective,
particularly when communicating with new donors - especially those who have a
history of philanthropy and know what they are looking for in terms of a
compelling and emotional cause. It can also be plugged into campaign messaging
and in-person solicitation efforts.
According to *Enterpreneur.com, your case statement should
address why you are in business, what outcomes you anticipate, how your
organization is different, how you intend to achieve your goals, and what major
accomplishments your non-profit has achieved. It should also include the
history, philosophy and financing basis of the organization.
2. Target Your Marketing - Start with your Network and an
Understanding of its Motivation
basic marketing planning can help you zoom in on the right donors and avoid a
shot gun approach to your fundraising efforts.
building a picture of your current personal
network - your sphere of influence. This will likely include early
volunteers or board members. Next, determine what it is about your cause (the motivator) that appeals to them and
to their demographic. Using this profile data, develop a strategy for reaching
other potential donors outside this early 'inner circle'.
you employ should be repeatable and reusable as your sphere of donors grows. Be
sure to assess the success of your approach and re-visit your strategy
frequently to ensure you are on track with your goals.
3. Write a Fundraising Campaign Plan
have written a business plan for your non-profit, drill down one step further
to develop a fundraising campaign plan for the year ahead. This is an
invaluable exercise in ensuring your tactics are aligned with your goals as
well as your available resources.
Be mindful of
your target market as you write your plan - your best bet for securing funds
from donors is to restrict your episodic fundraising activities to two to three
campaigns per year. More than that and you risk alienating your supporters with
too many contribution requests.
to plan out your strategy for ongoing initiatives too - this will include
everything from cause marketing activities to grant solicitations to
maintaining newsletters, attending and exhibiting at events, and other
(Read my earlier post - Tips for Finding the Right Blend of Funds for your Non-Profit - to get a picture of the role played by episodic funds and ongoing
funds in your non-profit business plan).
4. Understand the Role of Social Media
and Twitter to blogging, it's hard to ignore the potential of social media as a
low cost tool to support the fundraising and outreach activities of
non-profits. But take time to understand how it can fit with your goals and the
time investment. And, develop a plan for implementation before you start any
online dialog with your potential donors.
three articles to get tips on your non-profit social media strategy:
Nonprofit Communications (*The Fundraising Coach)
5. Leverage the
Resources of Other Non-Profits
Lastly, there are many resources to
help non-profits achieve their fundraising and philanthropic goals, not least
of which are those provided by other non-profits and government organizations
*Idealist.org, for example, lets you register your
non-profit and provides access to non-profit resources and information. You can
even create your own Web page, seek volunteers and interns, advertise on the
events page, network in forums, and more. They also offer in-person non-profit
career fairs and other events to help organizations network and grow.
Traditional small business support
groups such as SCORE are also a great resource to help non-profits start and
grow. Find SCORE and other free in-person assistance for your non-profit here.
Other resources that can help you in
your fund-raising efforts, from sourcing funds to writing grant proposals,
include the following:
Business.gov's Non-Profit Organization Start-up Guide - This site collects links to programs and services to help
non-profits find opportunities available to them from the federal government
including grants and financial assistance, tax information, government sales
and surplus, and more.
Center for Non-Profit Success - Here you'll find training and resources to help
Center - This is a non-profit that connects
non-profits and grant makers. It also provides resources and advice for
starting and managing a non-profit.
a Grant Proposal -
From Summary to Budget
USA.gov for Non-Profits - This site is the online version of
what many companies offering CFDA assistance services use to advise their
clients. It is available for FREE to all who wish to reference it. It has
specific information for non-profits divided into 3 sections: grants/loans,
management/operations, and tax information.
- Covering everything from starting up, fundraising, and managing volunteers to
marketing your non-profit, About.com's Non-Profit Guide is an invaluable and
resource-rich Web portal.
- This site provides free Web-based grant-writing tools for non-profit
organizations, charitable and educational organizations, public organizations,
and other community-minded groups.
*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.