I'm sure you'll agree with me. Fundraising is everybody's job. The board has a role in fundraising. If your fundraising is not effective and efficient, you probably won't raise as much as you'd like. Yawn. What else is new? Well, here's a tale that will go direct to the bottom line. If you don't have an ideal-funder profile, you risk losing time and effort, two resources you can't replace. With an ideal-funder profile, you can fund your organization far more easily and efficiently. I'd like to tell you about an organization that overcame a bad case of pursuing the "Usual Suspects," learned how to qualify a donor/funder prospect properly, and transformed themselves into an organization with adequate cash reserves.
Let’s talk about entrepreneurship for a minute. Nonprofits are a lot like those new-business ventures that get money from investors. Your fundraising practices have to attract the right charitable investors (donors), just like some entrepreneurs have to find the right investors. In both cases, the "investors" should understand what you're trying to accomplish, and that your "solutions" are going to have a positive impact in the market. The for-profit ventures have to answer to their investors, just like your nonprofit has to answer to its donors. Neither type of business can thrive unless it has the right financial backing, but with it, both will do a better job delivering on their promise. And in both case the “investors” want to see the business in question make a difference.
When you're fundraising, are you in charge or is your prospect? It might surprise you to know that lots of people who raise money (or are supposed to, anyway) are crippled by "Ask Reluctance." And one reason is that they let their prospective funders be in charge of the process.
I just had a great conversation with two people who, like me, have been thinking about the Art-vs.-Science debate that's been going on in fundraising circles for a while now. One is Linda Lysakowski, a multi-published fundraising author and expert in the field. The other is Cathy Williams, who's chairing the Fundraising Effectiveness Project for AFP (the Association of Fundraising Professionals). It was really reassuring to hear from these experts that there is a growing awareness of the need for science in the fundraising field, and a growing hunger for "scientific" resources that help nonprofits achieve great results through fundraising.
Hey, do you know where you put your Case Statement? Maybe you call it your Case for Support. Maybe I should ask, do you HAVE a Case Statement? Well, we've been studying this very subject in our Leaky Bucket Study for Effective Fundraising. And the answer we're getting is kind of depressing. So far, only about 16% of those surveyed told us that they have an up-to-date Case Statement. And lots of those giving that answer were large, well-established agencies!
Your fundraising pipeline, that useful calendar of prospective grants and gifts that you try to keep full, may only tell you two things today: "what's coming in soon?" and "are we going to meet our fundraising goals this quarter?" But your pipeline could tell you many other valuable things - if it could speak "Donor,"' that is, speak to you in the voice of your donors, grantors and corporate partners.