Fundraising is, without a doubt, extremely challenging work. For any of you with experience in this line of work, you will understand what I mean. For the rest of you, go out and volunteer your time with a local non-profit organization. After that, I think you will understand. While this can be a challenging profession, it continues to be quite rewarding in many respects. This article was drafted with the new fundraising coordinator in mind. So listen up, kids!
There are four major forms of fundraising. When one mentions fundraising to the average person, the image of a well-meaning person going door-to-door begging for support immediately comes to mind. While most of us have been there at some point or other, there is a lot more to this business than meets the eye. And yes, my friends, this is a business. We are in the business of managing relationships; relationships which, more often than not, are the key determining factor for success.
The first major form of fundraising is dealing with institutional grantors. These organizations are often the most difficult to deal with, due to the inherent bureaucratic nature of these types of organizations. On the other hand, grants and endowments from these organizations can often amount to incredible sums of money. For this reason alone, they should not be dismissed. You may have to invest a lot of time and energy into convincing these institutional organizations into supporting your particular cause, and this where the business of managing relationships comes into play. A single grant from one of these groups could secure the future of your non-profit activities.
The next significant form of fundraising is the promotion of special events and product sales. While this area could potentially include thousands of ideas, there is a central theme between them all. What is the donor getting in exchange for their donation? These types of fundraisers are labor intensive, and require a lot of detailed planning. In the case of event planning, spend the majority of your time on ticket sales. While you may want to obsess over every little event detail, it won’t really matter if people do not show up.
Direct marketing is another one of the major fundraising types. This approach includes direct mailings, telemarketing, paid advertising, public service announcements, and door-to-door canvassing. Direct marketing can be extremely effective, as it affords your organization the ability to reach out to a vast number of potential donors. In this area, it is crucially important to have a reliable donor list. There is no point spending resources trying to ask individuals or organizations for donations, if they are not connected with your cause in some way. Be sure that your direct marketing efforts are highly targeted, and you will undoubtedly achieve the desired results.
Last, but not least, we explore the idea of approaching individual donors. This approach is very similar to that of institutional donors, but it is geared towards well-to-do individuals. Individual donors can contribute to your cause in a number of different ways. One area that is common to individual donors is the planned gift. In simple terms, this refers to the choice of an individual to leave a portion of their estate or life insurance policy to your organization. Approaching individual donors should be left to your more experienced team members. As we mentioned before, fundraising is the business of managing relationships. A mentor once told me that “80% of your money should come from 20% of your donors”. Wise words, indeed!