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Going Beyond the Shot Gun Approach; 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Non-Profit’s Fundraising Efforts

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Going Beyond the Shot Gun Approach; 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Non-Profit’s Fundraising Efforts

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: November 10, 2009

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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

plan.

Consider

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.

Your case

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

Some very

basic marketing planning can help you zoom in on the right donors and avoid a

shot gun approach to your fundraising efforts.

Start by

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'.

The tactics

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

Assuming you

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.

Don't forget

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

brand-building activities.

(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

From Facebook

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.

Read these

three articles to get tips on your non-profit social media strategy:

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

(even those traditionally associated with for-profits such as the Small Business Administration and *SCORE).

*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.

Additional Resources

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.

  • *The

    Center for Non-Profit Success - Here you'll find training and resources to help

    non-profits succeed.

  • *Foundation

    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.

  • *Writing

    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.

  • *About.com

    Non-profit Portal

    - 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.

  • *Non-profit

    Guides

    - 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.

Message Edited by CaronBeesley on 11-10-2009 07:52 AM

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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