From the Expert: Fundraising Tips
During this unintentional hiatus of mine, I’ve spent a good chunk of my time on Camp Tannadoonah and Camp Fire USA stuff. One focus is non-profit fundraising. To wrap my mind around this strange concept, I’ve been talking to experts to get their advice and learn from them.
Recently, I had an excellent conversation with Rob Habicht, Executive Director of the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation. He sent me this email, re-posted with his permission. (He also asked me to note that he jotted this down in a hurry – so excuse any roughness.)
Here are my simple TOP TEN fundraising tips:
- Develop a clearly defined case statement that lets potential donors know what they will be supporting. If it is a program idea, include the expected outcomes of the program on the participants. If it is a capital campaign, include how new or improved facilities will enhance the delivery of programs that produce an outcome that the donor would support. And so on. Give them a philosophy to support, not just a name.
- Put together a prospect list, based on your best information of who is likely to support your case statement. Soliciting the world is a waste of time and resource, so concentrate on PROSPECTS. (Defined as those most likely to give)
- Estimate the capacity of each prospect to support your plan. Asking too high is not good, but asking beneath the capacity of the donor is frequently worse. If you have done your homework, and built points one and two carefully, you are free to ask for support in a meaningful manner from the right person.
- Rule of thumb, 80% of your goal will be drawn from 20% of your prospects. That means there will be lots of NO answers. Donâ€™t take it personally.
- Offer ways to give that fit the prospect. Multi year pledges, matching opportunities with employers, challenge gifts, and ability to receive more than just cash gifts (someone may like to use highly appreciated equities, for instance) are some of the examples of providing a choice to the donor. Everyone likes choice, and it opens up more YES possibilities.
- You can NEVER thank a donor enough, so do not stop thanking them. Many times over. For a long time. Get the idea?
- Phone solicitation is a bad process. Avoid it. Face to face when you ask for support is way more effective.
- A phone call thank you is ok, but not if that is the only way you are thanking a donor. Remember, too, to thank someone just for letting you ask, regardless of the outcome.
- Just as there is a right way to ask (info on that available on multiple web sources), there is a right person to do the asking. Give some thought as to who needs to talk to who. Peer to peer is the goal.
- Anyone who is asking for money in support of a charitable program, philosophy, or concept needs to be on board FIRST. All participants in the fundraising endeavor should give to the best of their ability, and be unhesitant to disclose that they are committed to the plan BEFORE they ask someone else for their support.
I could list 50 more thoughts, but this will do. Again, the mechanics of fundraising is widely available on the web. It is not rocket science, but it is an art. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance (the 5 Pâ€™s.)