Tag Archives: Nonprofit Resources

Anticipating 2014 Fundraising Success

Part two of a two part series (Read Part One: 2013 Fundraising Reflections)

fundraising, fundraising planning, fundraising strategies, new year, Nonprofit ResourcesIn our last column we asked you to reflect on your fundraising for the past year and to record your answers to three questions: What have you done well, which activities or strategies didn’t meet expectations, and were your goals realistic. In anticipation of the coming year, we suggest you use the wisdom gained from your reflections to lay the groundwork for 2014.

#1. Lead with your strengths. As you anticipate your fundraising activities for 2014 build on those things you did well in 2013. If special events are the revenue driver for your nonprofit, stay with that. Find incremental ways to build on what is already in place. In order to protect your nonprofit’s revenue in the future, make sure you also allocate time and resources to building other fundraising programs. For example, to grow your individual giving program you can begin identifying and following up with individuals who attend your events to determine which donors and underwriters are interested in other forms of giving and engagement. If your nonprofit has built a strong annual campaign, allocate time and resources to identifying potential major donors and deploying strategies designed to engage them in higher levels of giving.

#2. Rethink strategies that didn’t meet expectations. Not every fundraising strategy is a success the first time you work with it. If there are strategies that worked that well in 2013, review your reflection notes, and discuss the challenges and potential adjustments with other members of your fundraising team. Identify changes for 2014. Consider setting “check points” – times during the year when you will review the strategy, your progress, the extent to which the identified changes are being implemented, and whether or not they are effective. You may find that your changes can increase revenue. You may determine the strategy is not one that should be pursued, even with the modifications.

#3. Make sure your fundraising plan includes timeframes, roles and responsibilities, and a budget. Too often a fundraising plan is a wish and a prayer. Goals are identified, but the people, time and money required to achieve the goals are unavailable. If your nonprofit wants to “ramp up” its fundraising, it will need to ramp up its investment as well. Take the time to determine who will be responsible for taking the lead in ensuring specific goals are met within an agreed upon timeframe. Write up responsibilities for all team members. Create a budget and ensure the funds are allocated.

Upcoming columns will focus on the prerequisites for fundraising success – the 18 things we have learned through our work that are the foundation of a strong fundraising program. As you prepare for 2014 take some time to read our two books: they are available on Amazon.com, easy to read, and written for you.

Merry Christmas!

Photo credit: Beth from Flickr

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.

How do you count your money?

MoneyA cornerstone of successful nonprofit fundraising is trust. While there are many reasons to give, there are also reasons why people, foundations and corporations do not give. One reason is a lack of trust: donors and funders don’t trust the nonprofit to use the funds for the stated purpose. Here are some suggestions to help ensure your institution or organization retains a high level of trust from current and prospective donors.

Whether you are raising funds for an annual campaign or for a capital, endowment or other campaign the process of building trust begins with how you define what you are raising money for. Gain consensus amongst leadership (board and executive) regarding how much money you seek to raise and how the funds will be used. Be specific. Measure your progress against the agreed upon goal.

Work with the development committee of the board to develop gift acceptance policies. These can help avoid future confusion. For example, how long are your pledge periods, and when do you write off uncollected pledges? How do you account for gifts of real estate?

Be specific when talking about fundraising progress. A donor may have given a verbal commitment for a large gift, but you can’t include it in your fundraising total until it has been received or until you have a signed pledge agreement in place. The gift may not materialize.

Develop standardized fundraising reports that clearly communicate how much has been raised and for what purposes. Differentiate between pledges and actual funds received. When in the midst of a major fundraising campaign you are sure to receive multi-year pledges. These are vital, but they are also typically difficult to spend until the funds are received. Develop reports that show when pledge payments are expected to be received. These should match the terms of each pledge agreement.

When conducting a comprehensive campaign, list your fundraising priorities, and how much has been raised towards each. You may be able to reach or exceed your overall fundraising goal but may not have the funds you need to implement all stated priorities. This can occur when donors are inspired by a campaign and choose to make a restricted gift to a non-campaign priority. You should celebrate such gifts – but be careful how you include them in campaign accounting.

Remember – different people have different foci when it comes to counting money. Bring in the CFO, the CEO and your fundraising team and agree on how you will record and report on your fundraising. Be sure to reconcile fundraising reports with those produced by the finance office. Do this on a monthly basis.

If it sounds like we are focusing on small details, you are right. Don’t claim a fundraising success you cannot substantiate – it can come back to haunt you.

Picture credit: 401(K)2012 via Flickr

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.