Fundraising success depends on volunteer leadership. Previously we discussed four prerequisites for fundraising success — commitment by the board and executive director, completion of a feasibility study or survey, development of a fundraising plan, and a compelling case for support. This week we focus on leadership-related prerequisites.
- Top-caliber leadership. Fundraising must be volunteer-driven with strong, experienced leadership. This is critical to your success as it is the people associated with your organization that will attract others to your work. When evaluating who should lead your fundraising effort, think about who your organization already has a relationship with. Consider long-term donors and current major donors. They are already giving to your organization — a sign of interest and commitment.
Those who provide leadership need to be well respected and known throughout the constituency you will be raising money from. Each needs to make a significant financial gift to your organization, and be willing to ask others to do the same. They need to attend meetings, be publicly identified with your organization and its fundraising efforts, and able to concisely and passionately make the case for why your organization deserves funding and what the money will be used for.
- Active participation by the fund development committee. As you attract outside volunteers you need to also engage your current leadership. If your board of directors does not already have a fund development committee, one should be established with goals and financial objectives
- A team of properly trained and informed volunteers. It is volunteers, not staff, who are the best fundraisers. People who are giving their time and money to your organization are the strongest advocates to encourage others to do the same. Recruit volunteers to fill defined roles and let them know their responsibilities and the time frame of their commitment. Before they begin soliciting, train them in how to encourage involvement and solicit gifts. All volunteers need to be able to talk with authority about the impact your organization makes and how funds raised will be used. Each volunteer solicitor needs to make their own gift before asking others to do so.
- A strong public relations/communication plan. Create a plan to let people know the impact your organization is making. Utilize every method you can think of, including writing op-ed pieces, producing a newsletter, and speaking before faith-based and other organizations. Do everything you can so that when a donor is asked for money they already know what great work you do.
- Donor recognition and acknowledgement. You can’t say thank you enough. When a gift is made it needs to be acknowledged right away. Send a personal letter. Have a board member call the donor. You can never be too busy to thank and acknowledge donors. Include their names in your annual report, mention them when speaking in public, and create a wall where the names of those who support your work are publicly displayed. Encourage all to have a FUNdraising good time.
© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com.
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