This issue is grim death for the many smaller organizations that are dealing with a reduction (or end) of government funding. Seriously – I get about two calls a month asking for advice on how to plan for first-time-ever fundraising. The groups are usually super-small with only two or three staff.
My suggestion is the same in most cases – and kind of self-serving as you will see – I tell them to get a consultant to hack out an initial plan based on the organization’s resources and contact list. This way, they don’t end up just throwing money at a full-time fundraiser without a plan in place. Better to pay a pro for a few hours to get things set up right the first time.
Now for some points to keep in mind:
- Ask an expert, don’t waste time guessing, get all the options and evaluate. Get RFPs and references! (Yes, this was worth repeating!)
- Educate the whole organization about the need for fundraising – it can’t happen in a vacuum.
- Make a plan, and change it as you get better information.
- Pick types of fundraising that will appeal to the people currently involved with your group or cause.
- Use social media to get the contact info (emails) of people associated with, or interested in, your cause. They are your prospects.
- If you decide on doing some grant writing, call your prospective foundations first. Don’t “spray and pray” by sending out a zillion generic applications.
- Pick a system to track your prospects and donors – recipe cards are fun and have that whiff of nostalgia, but maybe get serious and get a cheap database in place.
- Start simple in your planning, but with an eye to future diversification.
- Hire a fundraiser before you have a plan of action.
- Hold an event without resources for follow up.
- Stage an event that is too complicated or expensive. Events are pricy and time-consuming – pick the simple ones!
- Like I said above, don’t Firehose your community with grant applications.
- Pay anyone on commission to raise money. A pre-arranged set bonus based on multiple performance points is fine. Paying a percentage of dollars raised is considered unethical by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ code of ethics.
- Invest in an expensive database until you have a couple hundred donors/prospects at least. Even then it doesn’t have to be pricy.
- Skimp on the fundraiser’s salary – you’ll lose out on long-term earning potential. You get what you pay for in terms of experience and efficiency. Do it right from the start.
And yes, I can help! Tell your friends and thanks for following my blog!