Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Friday, December 07, 2007

The 5 keys to individual fundraising success

For-profit organizations know that developing a new market requires financial risk and takes several years to return a profit. The same can be said for nonprofit individual fundraising. It takes several years of up front investment to develop a strong pool of individual donors, let alone find a return on the initial capital outlay. Success therefore requires leadership committed to a multi-year, 5-part fundraising cycle of planning, prospecting, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.

Internationally know fundraising trainer and consultant Kim Klein, once wrote, "The key to fundraising success is planning, planning, planning and then working your plan." A good fundraising plan is donor-centric. It requires a willingness on the entire agency, from top to bottom, to engage with donors in the most transparent, accountable and professional basis possible. This often requires an internal cultural shift and building the capacity of the organization.

"You already know everyone you need to know to raise money," is one of the truisms of fundraising. Many people think you need to know rich people to be a successful fundraiser. Of course this doesn’t hurt, however wealth is the least reliable indicator of giving. Strength of relationships and the interest in the cause are more reliable factors. Successful fundraising builds on the relationships already in place between an agency, board, staff and community to identify new prospective donors.

Prospective donors should be cultivated as agency "friends." If we ask ourselves how we would like to be treated by our own friends, than we have answered the question as to how to treat prospective donors. We should thank them for their interest, maintain regular communication, actively listen to them, spend time with them, be accessible, share information and ask for their advice. New friends whom we want to get to know the best, our major donor prospects, should receive even more regular and personalized interaction from agency leadership.

Many people fear asking others for money or help. Exploring our own personal relationship to money and recognizing that fundraising provides an opportunity for donors to act on their values can often shift this barrier. However, not everyone involved has to ask for money. Fundraising is a team sport. There are always more line roles available than those in the backfield. Yet, without a strong quarterback, there is no point in taking to the field.

The importance of donor stewardship cannot be over-emphasized. Gifts received by nonprofits are not given to us, but through us in service of the greater community. Donor stewardship includes gift acknowledgement, managing funds effectively, maintaining good donor communication and deepening donor relations. This is good manners as well as good business practice. All gifts should be appreciated. However, the larger the gift, the more personalized the donor attention should be. As a matter of efficiency, cultivation and stewardship activities are often combined.



At 1:59 PM , Anonymous Kivi Leroux Miller said...

This is a great summary! I was looking for something just like this to pass on to some small groups I'm helping pro bono and I'm glad I found it on your blog.

At 11:15 PM , Blogger Gayle said...

So glad to be of use. Thanks!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home