We’ve been hearing whispers that 2012 may – just may – be a more prosperous than 2011. There may be more jobs, less unemployment, and more good circulating throughout communities across the country. We believe in preparing for the best of times, placing stock in the adage that luck favors the prepared. In term of fundraising – securing funds for non-profit organizations and institutions – preparation is always the bedrock.
While money may have appeared to be flowing to organizations in the past, a more prosperous 2012 will most likely not bring a return to the days of “easy money.” In the recent past many organizations and institutions benefitted from the general prosperity that many throughout the country appeared to be experiencing. But many did not, and despite the current economic challenges, many organizations are attracting major gifts and investments. That’s the odd thing about the non-profit sector – all boats don’t rise and fall at the same time or in the same rhythm. Some are more favored simply because of “who” they are. Here we are referring to the fact that churches, hospitals, colleges and universities are historically the largest beneficiaries of gifts from individuals. So, if you are a grassroots arts organization or a reading program within a small rural community your organization may not attract as many donors as nationally recognized St. Jude’s Hospital. Likewise, colleges with alumni from middle class and wealthy families who have pursued lucrative careers may find they receive larger and more frequent gifts than colleges whose students came from less affluent backgrounds and who may have pursued less well compensated careers.
But nothing is written in stone. What we do know is this – prepare for fundraising success. Put in place the policies, procedures and actions that support a culture of accountability and transparency. Put fundraising front and center as a priority. Understand the balance between emotion and fact – use both when communicating with your current and prospective donors. But always be prepared to demonstrate good stewardship of funds. A fundraising campaign that tugs at the heartstrings can turn people off when word gets out that there is a big difference between what you say and what you do.
Over the years we have identified what we refer to as Prerequisites for Fundraising Success. Over the coming weeks we will focus on a few of these to help you prepare for increased fundraising success in the coming year. And we will return to these in columns throughout the year. What we know is this: a well managed nonprofit organization – regardless of size – benefits when the leadership (board, executives and staff) are in alignment, focused on its mission, working from a strategic plan, and engaging with donors and supporters in a proactive, market-tested manner.
© Copyright Saad & Shaw. Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727
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