Values are at the heart of a nonprofit and its operations. Our question to readers: what are your fundraising values?
We truly understand the importance of securing money and resources. At the same time we caution against a “money first” approach to fundraising. We believe that fundraising should be grounded in a nonprofit’s values. We offer six fundraising values for your consideration.
- The goals and visions of a nonprofit should first meet the needs of the community served. We all have individual dreams and a vision for a better tomorrow. When crafting or reviewing the vision and goals for your nonprofit make sure they meet community needs and are more than a vehicle for your personal aspirations. Make clear how your nonprofit will benefit your community, and keep community benefit as a priority at all times.
- Leadership should fully understand and support the nonprofit’s vision and goals. There should be no question about the organization’s or institution’s vision for the future, and how it will progress towards that vision. The executive staff and board should use the nonprofit’s vision and goals as a compass to guide their individual and collective work.
- A successful nonprofit should be volunteer led. While the nonprofit sector is increasingly professionalized with staff hired to support the implementation of a nonprofit’s vision and goals, each nonprofit should have strong volunteer leadership. Professional staff help ensure a full-time focus on the nonprofit’s work by individuals who believe in the vision and have the professional qualifications to deliver the services promised in the mission and goals. Volunteer leaders help keep the organization grounded in its vision and focused on its goals. When volunteers take the lead in raising funds, the impact can be far greater than a fundraising initiative that is staff driven.
- Fundraising should start with the strengths and resources that are currently available. Start where you are and take advantage of the opportunities available to your nonprofit and then extend your reach. Many nonprofits have relationships with individuals who want to provide resources, make introductions, or host home/office events. Start there. Make your case.
- A fundraising initiative should be guided by a plan that is derived from the organization’s strategic or business plan, and influenced by market research (feasibility study). Don’t jump into fundraising with a “we need money” approach. Craft your strategic business plan, learn how others respond to your plan, and then begin fundraising in a consistent, systematic way.
- The operations of a nonprofit should be open and transparent. We can’t say it enough. Be open, accountable, and keep your operations and financials transparent. There should be no secrets. Answer questions honestly; proactively provide information regarding finances, operations, impact and outcomes.
Your fundraising values can guide your decisions for short-term and long-term success.
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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 on Twitter: @saadshaw.