Raising money is one of the most important activities of a nonprofit. We say “one of” because we know that it is your mission and vision that is most critical. But funding is needed to bring these to life. Nonprofits that devote consistent time and attention to fundraising tend to build their “fundraising muscles.” Every organization can raise money – the question is whether or not you can raise the funds you need within the timeframe that you need to receive them. This is a fundamental business question, and we believe that each nonprofit can build its fundraising muscle. Here’s one suggestion.
Create a fundraising team comprised of staff, board members, and volunteers. Take time to talk with each team member to gain an understanding of their skillset and motivations. Ask each person what they think your organization can do in the area of fundraising. Once you have had individual conversations with each invited team member, bring the group together and ask them to suggest a fundraising project they can work on as a team. Their role is to define the project, the timeframe, and an anticipated financial goal. We suggest a 45-day project with a fundraising goal that is attainable and a “stretch” at the same time. Your responsibility as the CEO or board chair is to ensure the team has the support and information they need to be successful. But remember: this is their project, they are not thinking up a project for you to do!
As you listen to your team discuss what type of project they want to adopt, remind participants of the organization’s fundraising goals, the types of activities that are currently underway, and the amount of money that still needs to be raised. You want to gently guide the team into a project that will be successful and that will make an impact on your larger goals. You want them to gain experience identifying prospective people to join them in their project as donors, sponsors, solicitors, or in other roles. The goal is to increase their confidence, enthusiasm, morale, and involvement. They should emerge from their project with a “win” and a greater understanding of “how the game is played.”
Here’s what we have learned: so many of our nonprofits – because of the pressures of responding to community needs and raising funds – end up putting all their efforts into hitting a fundraising “homerun” instead of first getting players on all the bases. As a leader, you want to build confidence and morale, demonstrating that your vision and goals are obtainable by starting small and planning big.
Before you engage in a major fundraising initiative build your team’s confidence and experience by engaging them in smaller projects first. Think of it this way: it is very hard to build a team of fundraisers to raise “a lot of money” if they don’t have experience with smaller successes. This is what we call “building capacity.”
Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.