Articles by Linda

Fundraising as a Profession—What Does it Take to Succeed?

  • What are the key characteristics of a successful fundraiser?
  • Are these characteristics inborn or can they be acquired?
  • What can I, as a fundraising professional, do to acquire or strengthen these characteristics within myself?
  • What do I look for when hiring development staff people?

Many individuals entering the profession for the first time and those hiring their first development staff person are often not certain what qualities to look for in a development professional. Often one hears that development is really just sales or marketing. The individual or organization about to embark into the world of development needs to understand that it is a profession in its own right. Being a good salesperson or a good marketer may be helpful in fundraising, but there is far more to the career than sales and marketing.

How Important is the Table of Gifts in a Campaign/Appeal?

Some people think that a table of gifts is only important in a capital campaign, but all of your fundraising efforts should be focused on the fact that 90 to 95 percent of your gifts will come from 5 to 10 percent of your donors. The table of gifts is important to help keep staff and volunteers focused on the fact that major gifts are the lifeblood of any fundraising campaign/appeal and that without those major gifts; no fundraising campaign/appeal can succeed. The internal table of gifts should also show how many prospects you will typically need in order to secure those major gifts, as in the example below:

What Are the Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards?

Let’s take a step back and look at all the duties of a board before we talk specifically about fundraising.

 Determine the Organization’s Mission and Purpose: A statement of mission and purpose should articulate the organization’s goals, means, and primary constituents served. It is the board’s responsibility to create the mission statement and review it periodically for accuracy and validity. Each individual board member should fully understand and support it. (Goals and purpose can be reviewed, but mission does not change.)

What Does the Development Plan Look Like?

One thing to remember about your plan: it is more than a document! Both the process and the product are important – even more important is implementing the plan. The plan should contain a narrative of your fundraising philosophy and the overall mission of the development department. The plan should start with an analysis of prior development efforts (assuming, of course, that your organization has done fundraising in the past.)  It should state the mission and vision of the organization, because the mission and vision should drive all development efforts. You should also include a SWOT Analysis of your development office and explain how the plan was developed to build on your strengths, overcome your weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, and deal with threats. The plan should then list the broad-based goals of the strategies and the objectives under each goal.

Competition in Business Fundraising

You’ve probably always thought you had some degree competition for your services and lots of competition for funding from other nonprofits in your community. But have you thought about whether or not you are competing with for-profit companies? If you are, how can you turn these competitive relationships into collaborative ones? And why should you think about this? There are several reasons to think more collaboratively. First, businesses, as well as foundations, often like to fund programs rather than individual organizations that might be providing these programs. Second, if the business community sees you as competition, why would they want to support you financially?

The Planning Retreat

Okay, I know what you’re thinking! “Our board is sick of retreats, they just want to get the plan done.” “We cannot afford the time or money to do a retreat.” “We don’t need a facilitator, we can do a retreat ourselves.” “Do we really want to “retreat” from our planning duties?” A few years ago, it became quite popular to refer to the annual board retreat as a “board advance” to put a more positive spin on the process. After all, we want our board to advance don’t we, not to retreat from its duties? Yes, we do want the process to help advance our mission, our vision, our programs. But, I still like the term, board retreat. Here’s why.