Fundraising is a vital part of an organization’s life blood – it is what people do in order to bring an organization’s mission and vision to life. This is what makes the nonprofit sector different from the private or public sectors. “Revenue” is donated or “granted,” and fundraising is the primary way funds are secured.
Successful fundraising requires an organization-wide culture of fundraising. No one person can do it all. Some may wish one person could – and would – take on the responsibility, especially if that person is someone else! But that’s not the way to build a successful and sustainable fundraising program. When you have a culture of fundraising every person within your organization is directly or indirectly involved in raising funds.
Start building and strengthening your fundraising culture by including an explicit emphasis on fundraising in your mission, vision and values. Tie your strategic plan and business plan to a fundraising plan.
Make sure everyone within your organization knows how much needs to be raised on an annual basis, what the funds are used for, and the impact that will be achieved. Be transparent. Show where the money currently comes from and ask for help identifying where additional, or back-up funds could come from. Ask people how they would like to help.
Explicitly include expectations regarding giving and fundraising into the roles and responsibilities of board members. Include fundraising in each staff person’s job description, especially that of the president, CEO or executive director. When recruiting volunteers be sure to offer each the opportunity to give and to participate in fundraising. Provide all employees, students, clients, visitors and others who benefit from or appreciate your work with the opportunity to participate in fundraising. General training and orientation should include an emphasis on fundraising.
Giving – and asking others to give – is a privilege and an honor. Sometimes an individual’s unresolved feelings about money, giving and asking can cloud their leadership responsibilities. In such instances a board member or an executive may say she doesn’t want to “impose” on others by asking them to help with fundraising. What we know from experience is this: the biggest reason people don’t give is because they aren’t asked. We also know that fundraising can appear “clickish” and “exclusive” when only some people are asked to fundraise, or help with fundraising events. Resentment can grow and people with talent and initiative may become disengaged. Ask everyone. Ask for their gift, and ask them to ask. Always acknowledge, praise and lift up their giving and their fundraising.
A culture of fundraising grows over time and is embraced and demonstrated by leaders. The question is changes from, “Who is going to do the fundraising?” to “How can I help with fundraising?” Start now.
© 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