Asking for money is just one step in the process

Fundraising Cycle - More Than Asking for Money

Fundraising Cycle - More Than Asking for Money

Now more than ever many organizations are looking closely at their fundraising programs. Leadership expects the fundraising department to do more, often with less.

Organizations and institutions are being challenged in new ways and development departments are facing new demands.

One of those demands is to move away from development to focus more exclusively on fundraising. Development is the long term process that includes fundraising. It also includes identification, cultivation, solicitation, acknowledgement, engagement and stewardship.

In these times you may feel the pressure to focus on bringing in the money and may be asked to ignore the larger part of the development cycle. But you may be cannibalizing your development and fundraising function in the process.

Identification is the process of identifying individuals with the interest and financial means to support your organization.

Cultivation is the process of getting to know your prospective donors and letting them get to know your institution.

Solicitation is when you ask for money. This is the one piece of the process that is sometimes mistakenly seen as the whole. But it is only one part. Solicitation can take place by mail, on the internet, in person, from the pulpit if your organization is a church, or at an event. You can ask an individual for a specific amount, provide a range of options, or simply let them determine what they can give. Solicitation also takes place when you submit a proposal to a foundation, corporation or funding agency.

Acknowledgement is when you thank and acknowledge donors for their gifts. This includes sending thank you letters and tax receipts, and including gift acknowledgements in your annual report or newsletter.

Engagement brings your donors closer into the life of your institution. Many donors can give more than money. They can give their time, provide technical expertise, help secure resources and services at reduced prices or advocate on your behalf.

Stewardship keeps you in relationship with your donors. You think about them at times other than when you are in need of money. You invite them to events, keep them updated on your organization’s programs, successes and challenges. 

As you can see, fundraising is just one part of development. Don’t try to save money by treating your donors as an ATM machine. Remember to focus on all the steps in the development process.

Learn more about fundraising

Copyright 2009 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

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