Fundraising has been the topic of the week and in addition to my salon I took in a webinar put on by Cfccanada.ca and thestop.org called Stocking the Pantry: Fundraising in the community food sector.
What’s a good ask (for money)?
For corporations and foundations there’s usually a clear process so follow it. For major gifts – build relationships, ensure alignment, have a good plan and articulate what you’re about, do research on target, don’t ask on the first date, be ready with an answer; be clear about the impact the donation will make.
More from the experts
- Don’t be afraid to ask and be clear about what you want. But make it a two-way dialog, not just about your organization; ask what the donor wants to accomplish
- Persistence and stewardship of leads/donors is key. Expect it to take 1-2 years to develop major donors
- Alignment is important – what’s the connection of donor and cause. Long term relationships are based on trust and common interest
- Don’t forget the 80/20 rule, 80% your funds come from the 20% so focus on that – usually major donors and foundations
- Practice relentless storytelling (about talking about your cause) and be on the lookout for allies
- Your desk has a gravitational pull; schedule moments to talk to someone about the cause; be on the road
- Every board should have at least one member who will fill the ambassador role, you need at least 2 who will ask for money. Always be on the lookout for board members that will fill this. Committees good way to groom new board members.
- You need unrestricted funded in addition to program funding, diversified funding; flex money is like R&D money. Ongoing donors where you have earned trust may be open, and you can challenge “is this the best use of funds”?
- Funders come and go so you need to diversify; relentlessly be on the lookout for other folks; juggle, keep and find new ones
- Use volunteers in fundraising; for events they are a key work force; as ambassadors; volunteers are donors in another form and you need to steward them. Segment your volunteer list according to the roles they want to fill.
- There are probably more time/cost effective ways to make money than events. With successful events, what’s your goal? Getting donors, cultivate potential donors, build your profile, get more folks engaged…good reasons. Measure the results. A big part of the event is the follow up; capture names and then follow up 1-2 days after (say thank you, offer a tour, sign up for newsletter)
- 3rd party events are less effort. Need to be clear about what you are willing to do. The Stop has guidelines online with expectations and how they engage.
- Marketing platforms easier for getting corporate funding than programs. Businesses need to entertain clients anyway so an interesting event would work – it also makes them look like good corporate citizens. What are your assets to leverage? The Stop has chefs and farmers.
- Measure the costs of each campaign (all costs), measuring soft costs (opportunity costs, could we have raised more with less time/effort, event vs. grant proposal)
- Research shows that a big reason donors stop their support is because of a lack of effective communication with the organization
Strategic planning process might be a way to get funders involved – they talked of a senior exec at a bank who got involved in the planning process, offered great insight and ended up a lifelong supporter
Plan-passion-persistence:“Money grows on the tree of persistence”
You are the link between the needs of your organization and the philanthropic desire of the potential donor that wants to have an impact; needs to be aligned
They had a couple of cautions
- Be cautious about social enterprise. Only do it when you have the other pillars of fundraising solid – it is not the quick cash answer for charity. (By this I presume they are cautioning traditional charities that are looking for a snap on business that generates funds, not the new generation of social entrepreneurs.)
- There is a new breed of volunteer/funder, angel investors, that come with a big sense of how you should run your organization. The advice is to stay true to your plan, be strong – don’t let them take you off course.
Lots more info in this webinar which is available online at http://www.learningnetwork.thestop.org.
Just register (it’s free) and you’ll get access to this session and many more valuable presentations.