Tag Archives: prerequisites for fundraising

No Subsitute for Commitment


Successful fundraising for a nonprofit requires the full commitment of board members, the executive director, staff, and volunteer leadership. Without this commitment, it is very difficult to meet fundraising goals. People may say they are committed and that is good. What is more important is the extent to which people embody that commitment.

Consider the following. Do all leaders understand how much money the organization wants to raise, and what the funds will be used for? Can each articulate the impact the organization makes, and how it is unique? What about the strategic plan – do leaders understand the plan and how proposed fundraising ties to it? Does each believe the fundraising goal is achievable? Do leaders understand where the projected revenue will come from, and what plans are in place if initial solicitations are not successful?

What about their actions? Do your leaders embody integrity? Are they accountable? Do they encourage transparency? Do they come prepared to meetings and remain in contact with other members of the organization’s leadership between meetings? In the area of fundraising, do they make their own financial gift and ask others to do so? Do they generate enthusiasm for fundraising? Do they help secure in-kind resources that can offset organizational or fundraising costs? Do they share their creativity, resources, and problem solving skills to help advance fundraising? Most importantly, do they follow through on agreements?

While it takes time to cultivate and secure full commitment, this step cannot be pushed aside. If a fundraising initiative is executive director’s vision she should take time to meet individually with board members and share her vision and commitment. She will need to let board members know what it will take to make the vision a reality and ask for their support. She should be prepared to answer questions and overcome objections.

Likewise, if a project is the vision of the board of directors, the board chair should take the time to meet personally with the executive director to share the board’s vision and explain how the project will advance the organization’s mission and strategic plan. The board should be prepared to answer the executive director’s questions, and to provide her with the resources, support, and leadership that the proposed fundraising initiative will require.

The questions and objections raised by board members or the executive director may not be different from those that will need to be overcome when talking with prospective donors and partners. These comments, questions, and/or objectives can be most helpful in developing a strong case for support.

Regardless of where it originates, all leaders need to be engaged in the process of defining a fundraising project and its financial goals. What are you doing to engage the leadership at your nonprofit? What actions will you take to inspire commitment and engagement that will help secure funds, involvement, partnerships, and in-kind resources? Let us know.

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 then @saadshaw.


Preparing for Fundraising Success

Leadership Forum Sept 2012

Why are some nonprofits successful with fundraising when others face challenges? What can be done to change a nonprofit’s fundraising “fate?”

Some of the things that impact fundraising are outside a nonprofit’s control. These include a downturn in the local or national economy, or increased – and unexpected – competition from national disaster relief efforts. But other factors can be addressed proactively.

Here’s what we know. Sustained, successful fundraising requires consistent attention, action, funding, and leadership. It is proactive and volunteer-driven. The success of an organization’s or institution’s fundraising depends upon the involvement of board members — specifically, their ability and willingness to cultivate and solicit major donors. This is where it all begins. If the leadership of an organization is not behind a fundraising initiative, it will be very difficult for volunteers or staff to experience success.

Good intentions, desire, and commitment abound amongst board members, staff, and volunteers. While these traits are a mandatory prerequisite for fundraising success, they are not enough.

Your organization will also need develop relationships with individuals and institutions that can provide the financial and other resources you need. You will need strong project management skills and the ability to ensure that your fundraising goals remain a priority in spite of other emerging and/or unpredicted priorities. Volunteer recruitment and management will be key to your success. So will creativity, strategic thinking, and the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Always keep in mind that successful fundraising is donor focused. While it may sound counterintuitive, fundraising is not necessarily about you and your organization or institution. Success comes when you understand why your current and potential donors want to support your organization and when you value those motivations. When donor motivations are valued, the nature of the relationship between a donor and an institution can transform from one where donors are viewed primarily as a revenue source to one where donors and institutions partner to achieve a common goal.

But before you even begin the work of fundraising you need to look closely at your organization or institution and its leadership. Are the director or president and the board in full agreement regarding the organization’s mission and vision and how these will be brought to life? As simple as it sounds, this is where it all starts. Take the time to talk amongst yourselves. Do all members share a common understanding of the mission and vision, or do they operate from their personal or historical understanding of these? Have you taken the time to create an easy-to-use strategic plan that will guide the work of your board, staff and volunteers? Do you know how much money the organization really needs to raise? Can you communicate how the funds will impact the people you serve or advocate for?

Over the next few weeks we will address these topics in more detail. Our hope is that these columns will stimulate conversation and appropriate action within your organization. We want your 2013 fundraising to be successful.

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 on Twitter @saadshaw.