Raise more money
Fundraising in the non-profit and charitable sector is an ongoing endeavor. One cannot deny the necessity of money to help an organization to reach its mission. Although, the preference is to focus on people and the good work being done, money simply does not fall from the sky! Raising money requires action.
When board members assess the budget and deem it to be lower than desired, they often proclaim that it’s time to raise more money. However, this undertaking can be made in haste. What is often overlooked is a fundraising plan.
Fundraising requires effort, and creating a written fundraising plan evokes more effort. Initially, a fundraising plan can be especially challenging for smaller organizations with fewer resources, like human capital. On the other hand, it can be instrumental to an organization’s fundraising success! A fundraising plan is valuable to everyone, especially to those who are soliciting on your organization’s behalf.
A fundraising plan is a written document, and its primary purpose is to provide direction and a clear process for everyone involved. The board of directors or the fundraising committee will assume the task of creating a written fundraising plan. The final draft requires board approval.
Organizations understand that they are trusted stewards of monetary donations, because it is sourced from generous donors and granting bodies. Therefore, the funds allotted for an organization’s capital, operations, projects, and direct service are hard won and closely guarded.
There aren’t any concrete rules about what to include in a fundraising plan, but there is advice based on the past experience of the non-profit and charitable sector. Some key points abridged from a document written by Ken Wyman (1995) may prove useful in the creation of your organization’s fundraising plan.
Establish what you are fundraising for:
What is the objective?
What is the need?
Set a monetary goal:
- For example, avoid saying “we need a dishwasher.” Instead say “we’ll be able to serve more meals.”
How much money needs to be raised to meet the objective?
Will we build core costs into the monetary goal, such as administration and overhead (full cost recovery budgeting)?
Establish key players:
Who will be approached?
- Seek out donors
- Recruit volunteers
What methods to use?
- Personal ask (face to face)
- Direct mail campaign
- Special event
- Telephone campaign
- Newspaper ad
- No show event (buy a ticket, but it’s a pseudo event)
- Social media
- Corporate donation
- Email campaign
- Planned giving and bequest
- Public speech or call to action
- Grant application
NOTE: Charities registered with Canada Revenue Agency are allowed to solicit donations online and still remain compliant with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.
Make it appealing:
Set a timeline:
- Appeal to the head. For example, what problem will be fixed?
- Appeal to the heart. For example, what feelings are evoked?
- Appeal to the wallet. For example, what is the bargain?
- Ability to track progress online (regular updates are posted)
- An e-report showing the outcomes (responsible stewardship)
- A donation receipt for tax breaks (registered charities only)
- Public acknowledgement (an appreciation ad in a newspaper or website)
- A certificate to reflect the support given
- A thank you card or a small gift
- Easy to donate (all forms of payment accepted, mobile friendly, automated receipts)
How long will it take?
Set a budget:
- Decide when to start the fundraiser
- Decide when to end the fundraiser
- Allow ample time for planning the fundraiser
What costs are incurred to execute the fundraiser?
Set terms of reference for fundraising committee and volunteers:
- Marketing (print ads, radio ads, Facebook ads)
How can people be supported and prepared to do the work?
- Create job descriptions (specify roles and responsibilities)
- Provide an elevator speech
- Provide a success story of a service user
- Provide a mission statement or philosophy
- Provide statistics or fast facts
- Understand how will the money be used
- Understand what the impact or benefits will be
- Provide with a 1-2 page case statement (longer than an elevator speech but shorter than a business plan)
- Understand how the organization will follow up with donors after making the donation
How will we make it easy to give?
- Cash donation jars
- Embed donation button on every page of website
- Auto-generated receipt (registered charities only)
- Mobile friendly and compatible with all devices
- Accept debit, credit cards, and cheques
- Accept in-kind and silent auction items
How will we gather information to reflect results?
- Bank statement (pre-fundraiser vs. post-fundraiser)
- Donor survey
- Fundraising committee focus group
What indicators point toward success or non-success?
- Statistics (inputs vs. outputs)
- Overall impact
The written fundraising plan is a significant investment of time, but the return on investment can be exponential. Creating such a document helps those involved to think thoroughly about the fundraising strategy, reducing the possibility of blunders.
The fundraising volunteer will be better positioned to raise money, and respond to anyone with an inquiring mind. A fundraising plan supports the fundraising volunteer, because it provides them with a clear process. In fact, it helps to balance the efforts of everyone involved, because people can see where they fit into the bigger picture.
When funds run low, keep the morale high by referring to the organization’s fundraising plan. The extra effort invested early on will allow the fundraising volunteer to focus on making the ask with confidence.
Fundraising is a necessity in the non-profit and charitable sector. Many organizations solely raise their own funds. If your organization has hopes of raising more money, then it is necessary to prepare for contemporary giving conditions. Write and revisit your fundraising plan often, because it is unlikely to rain money any time soon.
Source: Wyman, K. (1995). Fundraising ideas that work for grassroots groups. Ottawa: Voluntary Action Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage