Articles by Linda
Finding time for Fundraising When You Don’t Have a Full Time Development Staff
When I first entered the wonderful world of philanthropy back in the dark ages (before email, can you believe that?), I was amazed when I found out this was actually a career and that large organizations had staffs of dozens of fundraisers. But when I started my consulting practice I mostly worked with boards and executive directors who did not have the luxury of development staff, so they had to do the fundraising themselves, in addition to all their other duties. Many executives came from the program side of the organization and were accustomed to grant writing. Most had also run special events. But didn’t know much about other types of fundraising. So, I quickly realized there were some things they could do to be more effective at fundraising.
Does Your Organization Need a Development Plan?
How many times has a well-meaning board member or volunteer come to one of your board meetings and offered this sage advice—“We should do a (golf tournament, gala dinner dance, art auction, walkathon, etc., etc.) because (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Hospital, etc., etc.) did one and raised $100,000?” Before the meetings ends, the whole board or committee is caught up in “event fever” and has the invitations designed, the flowers ordered, and the T-shirt sponsors listed. And there you are, the new development officer, trying to meet grant deadlines, straighten out the donor database that is a mess, and organize the other events that your organization is currently conducting. So what do you do when the board is bitten by the “event bug?”
Developing a Plan to Approach Companies
Perhaps you already have a list of companies that could donate to your organization. If not, we’ll be helping you with that in another artcele. Once you have that list, the next step is to determine who the real decision makers are in each company and how you can get in front of them to present your case. Remember that the decision maker might not be the person who has the most visibility in the company. It could be the CEO, or it could be a community relations director, or head of a corporate foundation. It could be an employee committee. So do your research first. In most cases, it will benefit you to build a relationship with the CEO. Even when there is a foundation, an employee charitable giving committee, or a community relations department, the CEO most likely will have a great deal of influence over these other “decision makers.”
Measuring Success in Fundraising: Internal and External
One of the things I’ve found in my research, and from the anecdotal experiences I’ve shared with thousands of development professionals in workshops and webinars, is that so few development offices measure the right things or, even worse, measure anything at all. This is one of the lessons nonprofits can learn from the business world--measurement is critical for improvement.
Marketing Collateral Materials—Do We Need Them?
In a world of Twitter, Facebook, web-based fundraising and all the other social media and Internet possibilities, is there still a place for printed marketing materials to support your development program? As with everything else I’ve preached about fundraising, I think it all comes down to the key word, Diversify! Diversifying your funding streams is critical to a successful development program. Likewise, you should consider diversifying the approaches to your donors.
Smart Donors Need a Smart Organization
What Smart Donors Want
We’ve probably used the SMART acronym when establishing strategic planning goals and objectives. Sometimes there are different twists on the acronym, but here we’re using: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely. Here’s another way to use it: Donors are smart these days. That smartness cuts through all ages, all ethnic groups, and both genders. They know how and where to find information about the nonprofit world. They know who the watch dog agencies are and seek information about your organization from them. They do their homework. As fundraisers, we must not only be keenly aware that they know, but our messages must be truthful and transparent. We cannot be defensive, but we can be upright. Smart donors are looking for nonprofits that appeal to their specific interests, have measurable results, provide action-oriented ways to get involved, set realistic goals and give timely responses.