Tag Archives: fundraising training

Preparing to Ask for a Gift

Making the Ask-Part Two

Preparing to Ask for a Gift-Saad & Shaw

Fundraising provides nonprofits with the money they need to deliver on their missions. When you ask others to join you in giving you become part of the nonprofit’s success team.

In part one of this series we discussed how to prepare to solicit a gift. In this column we cover setting the appointment and what to say when asking.

Here’s what we believe: asking for a gift should be done in person whenever possible. Make an appointment to talk with your colleague, family member or friend about giving. Let’s use an example of asking Jesse for a gift. “Jesse, would you have time to meet with me about All In For Children? I am committed to working with them to raise money for their new programs and I want to share that information with you and explore how you would like to be involved.” All you want from the conversation is a time to meet. If Jesse says, “Oh, we don’t have to meet. Put me down for $100,” you can respond with, “I understand. Would you make some time for me just the same? You might want to give even more after we talk!” Keep the conversation light, but get that appointment.

As you prepare for your meeting, make sure you have brochures or online information you can share. Practice your presentation. You will want to talk about the organization’s history, current activities and vision for the future. You will also want to cover what specifically you are raising money for and how the money will be used. Be prepared to communicate using emotion and facts.  Talk about what the organization means to you and why you are involved.

During the solicitation be sure to ask for a specific, reasonable and challenging gift.  Know the amount you will ask for.  It shouldn’t be too small an amount, nor too large.  Remember to talk about the gift you made.  If your gift is similar to what you would like your prospect to give, state the amount you gave and why.

Always remember to make the ask. Be very clear and specific when asking: “Jesse, I would like for you to make a gift to All In For Children.  Would you be willing to contribute $___?”

Pause after you ask for the gift.  Do not rush to fill the silence.  Give Jesse time to respond, for he will. If he says “yes”, thank him and ask how he would like to make his gift. If he says “no”, ask what would be the right amount at this time. If Jesse says this is not the right time, ask what would be a good time. Regardless of the outcome, thank him for his time. After the meeting, send a thank you note.  You can do it! Your nonprofit depends on you.

Get all the details in “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” 

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.


Grassroots Fundraising

Is fundraising for small grassroots organizations different from fundraising for a hospital, college, or well recognized college access program? How do you raise funds for an organization that is challenging the local power structure? GIFT – the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training knows how. GIFT has been growing and supporting grassroots fundraisers for over 30 years. They have a great on-line archive of low-cost, easy-to-use tools and guides. Their upcoming conference (August 10th – 11th in Oakland, CA) will provide opportunities for fundraisers, activists and organizers to meet, learn and collaborate. Our interview with Jennifer Emiko Boyden, GIFT’s communications coordinator, will introduce you to the organization. After that, it’s up to you – you can raise the money you need to create social change.

Saad & Shaw: Let’s start with a provocative question – isn’t all fundraising the same?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     While it’s true that all fundraising—much like community organizing—is all about building relationships, skills needed to be an effective fundraiser vary depending on the community and fundraising activity. At GIFT, we feel it is essential for grassroots groups to be supported by, and accountable to, the communities they’re serving; and that a broad base of individual donors is critical for their long-term sustainability. Accountability to the community is not built-in when you receive a foundation, corporate or government grant, for example. In those cases, you’re accountable to the funder. Similarly, the skills needed to organize a special event or run a capital campaign are different from those needed to submit a grant proposal.

Saad & Shaw: What does the term grassroots mean to you?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     The best way to describe GIFT’s definition of “grassroots” is “from the community.” So “grassroots fundraising” involves building our collective resources; and “grassroots groups” are those led by, and accountable to, those who are most impacted by the work they’re doing.

Saad & Shaw: What are the skills that an executive director or development director needs to be successful?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     Executive directors and development directors need to have a strong vision for their work, the ability to build strong relationships with their supporters, and a keen sense for knowing how to energize a fundraising team. Planning skills and the ability to set realistic goals are also essential. One important thing for executive directors and development directors to know is that they cannot, and should not do all of the fundraising on their own. We work with groups so they can create a culture of fundraising, where fundraising responsibilities are shared across staff, and executive directors and development directors are not working in isolation and have more sustainable workloads. Too often, these positions are on a direct path to burnout. With the average amount of time a fundraiser stays on the job being just 16 months, as a sector, we’re clearly not supporting our development staff in the right ways.

Saad & Shaw:    How has the recent recession changed fundraising for grassroots organizations?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     With government cutbacks and shrinking foundation dollars, we have sadly seen many groups forced to close their doors. Others have gotten rid of their offices or transitioned from paid staff to being all volunteer. A lot of groups have also intensified their grassroots fundraising efforts, having learned the hard way the perils of over relying on foundation or corporate monies.

Saad & Shaw: What systems, policies or understandings need to be in place before a grassroots organization can be successful with its fundraising?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:    Put simply, you need a culture of fundraising at your organization in which all board and staff are involved in raising money for your group. You also need to ensure that you have a diversified income stream, with a healthy balance of earned income, grassroots, and institutional support.  And having some kind of database—even if it’s just an excel spreadsheet to start—is important to track gifts, create thank you letters, and store other important donor information.

Saad & Shaw:  What is the mindset that a board member must have in order to contribute to the success of a grassroots organization in a meaningful way?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden: Having good board members who will follow through on their fundraising commitments seems to be a challenge for almost every grassroots group. Board members need to understand that in addition to their fiduciary responsibility, raising money for the group is an equally important part of the job.  However, we acknowledge that not all board members have the same kind of access to financial resources or networks, and we value the time, ideas, and other types of resources that board members have to offer.

Saad & Shaw: What are the three most important things a grassroots organization should consider as it considers launching a fundraising campaign?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     Before getting started, make sure you have the fundamentals in place like a current case statement and a goal or fundraising plan. It is also essential to use all three fundraising strategies (Acquisition, Retention and Upgrading), and have everyone (including your board) actively engaged in fundraising.

Saad & Shaw: Let’s back up a little – how did GIFT get started?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     GIFT was started in 1996 by the Center for Third World Organizing and the Southern Empowerment Project, two longtime organizing training centers. They believed that grassroots groups working for social change needed an organization to teach fundraising skills and support people of color to be fundraisers. The Grassroots Fundraising Journal was co-founded in 1981 by Kim Klein and Lisa Honig, who saw that most of the resources on nonprofit fundraising were not applicable to grassroots groups, especially those challenging and changing the status quo. GIFT and the  Grassroots Fundraising Journal merged in 2008. The new organization continues to be called GIFT and the magazine it publishes is still called the GrassrootsFundraising Journal.

Saad & Shaw:    What is the mission of GIFT?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     The Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) is a multiracial organization that promotes the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building. We believe that how groups are funded is as important to achieving their goals as how the money is spent, and that building community support is central to long-term social change. We provide training, resources and analysis to strengthen organizations, with an emphasis on those focused on social justice and based in communities of color.

Saad & Shaw: As an organization, what is GIFT seeking to accomplish?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     Our long-term goal is for social justice and progressive groups based in communities of color and low-income communities to depend on the financial support of their community and engage in grassroots fundraising using a social justice framework.  We do this by providing resources to individual fundraisers and social justice groups, including our bimonthly print magazine, the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, our free monthly eNewsletter, and training and consulting services. We also bring these groups together at our biennial Money for Our Movements: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference to strengthen our grassroots fundraising skills, build our collective resources, and sharpen our vision for our movements.

Saad & Shaw: Would you provide our readers with some examples of the types of information available through the GIFT website and magazine?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     Our website has a wealth of information available, some free and some for a fee. If you sign up for our free eNewsletter, you’ll get fundraising tips, training opportunities, and job announcements delivered to your inbox each month. We offer webinar podcasts on topics such as “Recruit 4 Great Board Members in the Next 4 Months,” a Spanish language training toolkit called “Comunidades del Futuro: Guia para Facilitadores Capacitando a la Comunidad en la Recaudacion de Fondos” and Special Edition Journals like “Spectacular Special Events.”

We also have over 350 articles in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal archive on topics ranging from special events to appeal letters to capital campaigns. Each article can be purchased for $3 each, but if you subscribe to the Journal, you’ll gain free, unlimited access to the full archive. It’s like having a virtual library at your fingertips! Each issue of the Journal is full of tips you need to be a better fundraiser!

Saad & Shaw: What about the upcoming conference? What can prospective attendees anticipate learning?

Jennifer Emiko Boyden:     The Money for Our Movements conference is different from other fundraising conferences in terms of content and participation. The workshops emphasize developing revenue strategies hand-in-hand with political goals. We, provide a space for groups to come together to learn from one another and identify opportunities for peer support and collaboration. Our signature debate is always thought provoking and lots of fun, with debaters tackling some of the most pressing issues facing social justice fundraiser-activists. This year our keynote speakers, Saru Jayaraman and Attica Woodson Scott, will share their vision for how we continue to successfully build out collective resources in this particular moment. We take pride in the feedback we’ve gotten from conference participants—two-thirds of whom are people of color—who say that our conference is one of the few times they get to see themselves, their community and their values really reflected in fundraising.

Saad & Shaw:       Thank you Jennifer.

Take a moment to visit GIFT online and subscribe to the journal.

Team Building and Fundraising

Fundraising is all about teamwork!Teamwork is essential to fundraising. You can raise more as a member of a team than you can as an individual. With a team you have backup, support, increased connections and more people working toward a common goal. Some team members assist with marketing and communications, others invite businesses to sponsor your special event, and still others will craft your year-end appeal. The grant writer is busy writing, and learning who-knows-who on a grant selection committee in order to coordinate pre-decision conversations. Campaign co-chairs are mixing and mingling about town, advancing the “buzz” and encouraging the who’s-who to get involved and give. Everyone is sharing contact information and updates with your data management person. All gifts and pledges are recorded and donors promptly thanked.

Good will fills your team meetings….Or does it?

Why do some groups just click, while others are overcome by challenges?  To find out we talked with Dr. Lewis Rambo an internationally recognized leader and teacher in organizational development, team building, and executive coaching.

Saad & Shaw: What makes a successful team?

Dr. Rambo: I’d rather comment on what makes an effective team rather than a successful team.  Too often we think of team success simply in terms of winning and losing … as in sports.  An effective team is a group of talented, motivated people who are energetically and harmoniously focused, like a laser beam, on achieving mutually shared goals or objectives.

Saad & Shaw: What should people be aware of when working in a team?

Rambo: A team is not just a group of people working on something.  To be a truly effective team member you need to:

  • Know what is to be accomplished by the team.  All team members should have a clear understanding of the team’s goals and of what the organization expects of their team.
  • Help determine how the goal should be accomplished.  Input from everyone on the team is needed at this stage.  Your contribution and opinions are very important to the team’s final product.
  • Share mutual respect for your team members.   You have to be willing to trust the skill and expertise of other team members and to become interdependent, perhaps, giving up some of your independence.
  • Share in group decision-making.  Being a team member is a serious responsibility. Some people like to sit on the sidelines and remain silent, so they can say, if things fail, “I told you so!”  Good team members do not do that.  They are committed at the outset… and willing to expose their thoughts and feelings, for all to view.  It takes real courage to be a fully involved, collaborative, team player.
  • Share the glory with others.  You can’t claim credit for all the ideas that actually work, and then distance yourself from the team’s failures.  Being an effective team player takes effort. Most importantly it yields results!

Saad & Shaw: What about team accountability and the role of a team leader?

Dr. Rambo: Good questions! The team leader has to take full responsibility for guiding and motivating a group of people who probably have very different styles, patterns of behavior, ideas, abilities and, attitudes. Every team leader will face unique challenges, problems, and opportunities. While no perfect formula for effective leadership exists, most successful teams have leaders who:

  1. Communicate Clearly. Clear communication is the cornerstone of good teamwork:
  • Organize before you communicate.  If you are instructing a team member, run through the steps in your mind before you speak.
  • Monitor your tone.  A leader must often give corrective feedback. When speaking to a team member, be aware of the impact your words can have. Although you may feel you are simply pointing out the need for correcting a mistake, you may be crushing morale and encouraging resentment.  Suggestion:  Plan out exactly what you want to say.  Offhand comments can be easily misunderstood. Before giving a team member any negative feedback, ask yourself: “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”
  • Send clear messages.  Don’t let distracting behavior or body language dilute or confuse your message, especially important when listening to team members.  If you are reading a document, looking around the room, or fiddling with a pen when others are talking, they will know you are not paying attention.

2.    Establish and Enforce Standards

  • Communicate standards and expectations so they are concrete and measurable.  Objectives and goals should not be fuzzy or unclear.
  • Create a scoreboard.  Let team members know how they are measuring up against expectations goals and/or targets. Post team achievements and successes where everyone can see.

3.    Help Them See The Big Picture

  • Communicate the vision, mission and objectives to team members regularly.  Teams sometimes get so focused on day-to-day activities they forget the bigger picture.  It is the leader’s responsibility to help members remember their work is directly tied to the organization’s mission. 
  • Show the team its contribution.  For example: circulate reports showing funds raised to date, number of solicitations, number of new donors and other data.

4.    Develop Your Team Members. Your team members have their own hopes, ideas, and ambitions.  Try to connect their aspirations to the team’s goals and build powerful alliances. Help team members find mentors.  Have new members “buddy up” with established members until they learn the ropes.  Having a fellow team member who “really understands what is going on” as an advisor can be a powerful tool in a new member’s development and participation.

As the team’s leader, be accountable yourself: set an example, and work hard to communicate with your team members. That’s how  you will begin to master the art of team leadership.

Learn more about Dr. Rambo at www.lmrambo.com.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010

Fundraising Fundamentals

When it comes to raising money for a non-profit organization or institution the emphasis is often “this is how much money we need; who can we get it from?” That may be all well and good, but in most cases our response is “let’s take a moment to see if your fundamentals are in place.” By this we mean taking the time to make sure the important work of education, awareness, and involvement has preceded the launch of your fundraising. These are important because an educated, aware and involved donor is more likely to make – and continue to make – a gift to your organization.

Here’s what we mean.

 Education. This refers to internal and external education. Does everyone within your organization or institution know what you are raising money for and why? Do they understand your strategic plan, what it will take to implement the plan, what it will cost, and what the impact will be? Externally this refers to educating your donors and community about the needs your institution addresses, how your programs or advocacy make an impact, and what will be different as a result of your work.

 Awareness. The process of increasing awareness for your organization or institution builds on – and often coincides with – the work of educating your internal and external constituencies.  Awareness activities draw attention to your organization or institution, and let people know about specific programs, achievements or advocacy campaigns. They can include inviting people to visit your offices, or to tour your campus. If you are committed to making sure young men make choices that keep them out of prison, then awareness may take the form of inviting people to visit your local juvenile detention facility so they can see what happens to young men if they enter the juvenile justice system.

Involvement. Studies have shown that people who are involved with an organization tend to be more consistent donors. That goes for young donors, older donors, large donors, and those giving smaller gifts. A donor’s attachment to your organization is based on experience. The more meaningful that experience is, the better. The days of asking volunteers to mail out newsletters are over. Today involvement can mean “would you help us create content for our monthly e-newsletter” or “would you be willing to be a mentor, giving an afternoon a week to a young brother?”

Fundraising. This is the fourth step in the process we call “fundraising.” Asking for money without having first engaged in education, awareness and involvement makes the ask more challenging. People don’t know you. They don’t know what you do. They don’t know why they should support your organization when they are already supporting another. Many times they don’t “feel” you. When you put in place mechanisms for the above three activities the process of asking for money should be easier.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

Don’t Miss Fundraising Day: June 16 in San Francisco

Where can you go to learn everything you need to know about fundraising? Is there a one-stop-shop for information about fundraising that can help fundraising professionals, board members, volunteers, consultants, and executive directors? Is there a place to learn how to improve your direct mail campaign? How to write better proposals? What about the right use of technology? Well, Fundraising Day 2010 has all the answers you are looking for.

Mark your calendar for June 16, 2010, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and show up at the Marriott Hotel at 55 4th Street in San Francisco.

Fundraising Day is a one-day nonprofit fundraising training for the Northern California nonprofit community. Organizations of all sizes and types are invited. With 40 workshops scheduled, there is something for everyone. One thousand people are expected to attend with an average of 100 attendees per workshop. And don’t worry – food is provided. There will be a continental breakfast, two coffee breaks, and lunch, with vegetarian options available.

Here are some examples of the types of workshops offered:

  1. How to Deliver Superlative Donor Care
  2. The Science of Direct Mail: How Does It Measure Up?
  3. Rebuilding Your Board
  4. How to Approach a Foundation: From Initial Contact to Getting Funded — What Does it Take?
  5. Anticipating Foundation Trends: What Philanthropy Insiders Predict
  6. Raising Money Online: A Savvy Guide to Fundraising Success
  7. Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask About Fundraising Technology But Were Afraid to Ask
  8. Working Smarter not Harder: Fundraising Planning for Small Shops

The event is presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Gate Chapter  and the Development Executives Roundtable. Both of these organizations offer workshops and programming throughout the year to support the work of non-profit organizations across the Bay Area. They come together to present this conference to help strengthen the many organizations providing vital services, strong advocacy, and inspiring arts productions.

“The line-up of speakers, workshops and panels at this year’s Fundraising Day is incredible. Our stellar volunteer program committee outdid themselves in putting the program together this year. We really do have something for everyone, with workshops designed for every level of fundraiser, from the volunteer new to fundraising to seasoned professionals who qualify for our Masters track. We can’t think of a time when this conference has been more important, and we are really delivering,” Leyna Bernstein & Cheryl Clarke, Co-Chairs, Fundraising Day 2010

The conference also includes an Ask the Experts Pavilion where you can sign up to talk one-on-one with an experienced professional about a specific fundraising question. The Career Café provides an opportunity for people who work in the nonprofit sector to talk with a coach or other individual for guidance on how to build their career or find a new job.

To learn more, or to register visit www.afp-ggc.org/frd2010 or call (415) 404-6501.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

Online Communications and Fundraising – Workshop in SF

It’s a new year and time to advance all those projects put on the shelf in 2009. And time to upgrade your already strong skill set. What’s next? Check out the Development Executive’s Roundtable (DER) meeting on the topic of online communications and fundraising. Everything you need to know for $20 PLUS a delicious lunch. ($12 if you are member!). Mark your calendar for Friday January 8, 2010(12:00-1:30 p.m.) Localtion and pricing at end of post! (Read on…)

Your New Year’s Resolution:  Figure Out Online Communications and Fundraising

Here’s the Buzz!

We know: you never had time to wrap your head around “Web 2.0” and now you’re hearing Web 2.0 is over! Seminars and interns are telling you all sorts of frightening/enticing things about what you can do on the internet: Money flows in rivers online! Prospects flock like geese online! Data can be panned like gold at online! E-blast! Blogging! Twitter! Run! Catch up! Arrrggghhh!

Yes, the online landscape changes fast, but you don’t have to keep up with everything: you only need a basic map. In this presentation we’ll draw a map of the kinds of fundraising and communications tools that are available for nonprofits online, and how they connect with each other. We’ll look at your needs and how these tools integrate into an overall strategy. We’ll also look at specific services and providers so you can go straight back to the office and start trying stuff out.

Presenter: Claire Light is a Bay Area writer and cultural worker. She has worked for eleven years in nonprofit administration, particularly arts in the Asian American community. Most recently, she’s been consulting in online communications and fundraising for nonprofits in the Bay Area. Previously she worked as development coordinator for Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, co-founded and served as a senior editor and development director at Hyphen magazine, and was program manager at Kearny Street Workshop.  She currently blogs for Hyphen magazine.

Cost for Luncheon: DER = $12,  non-members = $20.  Lunch is included in your fee.

 Reserve by Wednesday, January 6th Programs often sell-out, so it’s “first come, first served!”

Location: Lighthouse for the Blind, San Francisco, 214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, Near Van Ness or Civic Center MUNI stop; Civic Center BART

Individual Donor Research – San Francisco Workshop

DERMajor Gifts on Limited Time: Using Research to Prioritize Prospects
Presented by Barbara Pierce
Friday, August 14, 2009, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Development Executives Roundtable (DER)
Location: The Foundation Center, 312 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco
Co-sponsored by The Foundation Center

With so many responsibilities, how do you decide how to use your time most wisely? In this workshop, you’ll learn valuable tools to use in making time-efficient decisions about which prospects to focus on for the best results. We’ll discuss what prospect research can (and cannot) answer for you, where to start your search, tips on best research sites, an introduction to electronic wealth screening and finally, how to utilize the information you do find to cultivate and solicit potential donors.

About Barbara:
Since she was handed a list of 1,500 prospects at her first development job, Barbara has been an avid student of how to quickly identify the best prospects through research. Based in San Francisco, she is a development consultant with 15 years of experience in working with major gift prospects on gifts ranging from $10,000 to $1 million plus. She has worked with organizations including: California League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, Mills College, REDF (formerly The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund) and the George Lucas Educational Foundation. She can be reached at pierceconsulting2002@yahoo.com

Cost for Luncheon: DER members = $12, non-members = $20. Lunch is included in your fee. Because of DER’s special relationship with the Foundation Center, participants who wish to bring their own lunch can attend the meeting for no cost, but you still MUST register at the DER website. Please reserve by Wednesday, August 12 at www.dersf.org. Programs often sell out so don’t delay!

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

Fundraising – Your New Career

new_careerLinks updated: 2014

Is it time for you to start a new career? Is it time to make a difference in the world? To use your best skills for the benefit of those things you believe in the most? If so it may be time for you to become a fundraiser. Fundraising was listed as one of the top 30 careers for 2009 by US News and World Reports. (Thanks for Michael Magane for bringing this article to our attention!) What exactly is fundraising and why would anyone want to be a fundraiser?

Fundraising is a career with many opportunities for people with a variety of skills. We wrote about this  at the beginning of 2008. At that time real estate agents and mortgage brokers were reeling from changes in the housing market. We wanted people to know that the skills people have developed in these industries could be transferrable to fundraising. Today there is an even greater pool of people with strong skills, connections and experiences who can help build and sustain the fundraising capacity of non-profit organizations, hospitals, colleges, universities and churches. We updated our columns in 2009. (Links available at end of post)

We define fundraising as the process of bringing together organizations and institutions with the people and resources they need to deliver on their mission. It’s not arm twisting. Its’ not begging. It’s about partnership. It’s about helping individuals, families, businesses, corporations, foundations and government agencies identify those organizations who share their beliefs and who are bringing them to life.

Here is what we know about fundraising. People give to a diverse array of institutions, causes and programs. And there is a role for people with diverse skills, backgrounds, personalities and connections. Fundraising is conducted by professionals and even more so by volunteers. As a profession with a career-path there is room for introverts and extroverts, big-picture thinkers as well as people who are detail-oriented. It is for people who lean right politically and those who lean left. It is for people who are in career-transition, who are looking to make a difference and who are willing to learn. And it is for African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and other people who until recently have not been well represented in all aspects of the profession. With changes in American demographics and the growth of the non-profit sector the need to diversify the profession creates new opportunities who people who have been volunteering with their churches, sororities, local schools, colleges and universities. And there are opportunities for people who are changing careers – whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

We believe our three-part series on the topic of careers in fundraising  may be even  more relevant now than it was originally written.  Here are a few key points:

  1. Positions are available with grassroots organizations, colleges, hospitals, national organizations, foundations, advocacy organizations, research institutes, churches, radio and television stations… — all types of organizations and institutions that are categorized as “nonprofits.”
  2. If you are able to secure work with a hospital, college or public radio or television station, you will learn the systems and procedures that represent best practices in fund development and fundraising. Working for one of these institutions can provide you with insight into the many different strategies and activities that comprise fundraising.
  3. If you can remember that your work is about the organization and those it serves and not about you, then you can be successful. People won’t be giving to you; they will be giving to the organization you represent. Your job will be to best promote its successes, the vision of its leadership and how donations are used to advance goals and programs.
  4. There are many entry-level, midcareer and senior-level positions within fundraising and fund development. There is also a gap between the number of positions that need to be filled and the number of individuals who are qualified to fill them. (Part three of the article lists common fundraising job titles and provides descriptions for these).

Part One  – Fundraising and fund development in the nonprofit sector are close cousins to sales and marketing in the private sector.  Learn about the benefits of a career in fundraising and fund development.

Part Two  – Find out what positions are available within the fields of fundraising and fund development


How To Solicit a Gift

How To Solicit A Gift!Have you been asked to raise money for a non-profit, college, hospital or church? Are you willing but not sure how to proceed? Is it your job to prepare volunteers and staff to solicit gifts? If so, How to Solicit a Gift was written for you!

We wrote How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors for two reasons. To help people learn how to ask others for a gift to an organization or institution they believe in. And to help the staff of non-profits, colleges, churches and hospitals understand how to best prepare volunteers to solicit gifts.

Fundraising is much more than simply asking people for money. 90% of fundraising is preparation. Only 10% is actual solicitation. Learn what it’s all about and how you can succeed.