Getting Serious About Your Fundraising Efforts

How serious is your non-profit about your fundraising efforts? Depending on the size of your organization, here are some things to think about:

For Small Non-Profits…

If you run a small non-profit organization (many churches and schools also fit this category), how much time, per week, is your staff dedicating to fundraising? Are you out there doing prospecting and building a fundraising pipeline? Are you writing grants and holding events?

Many small non-profit s rely on the generosity of a few large donors, or on the regular giving of a stable base of donors, and never go outside that group to grow and expand. The path to true vitality and sustainability for an organization is growing not only your annual revenues, but your base of donors as well.

If you don’t have a full-time fundraising director, who is handling your fundraising? Does that person see raising money as a key part of their job, or just a sideline activity for when they have a few moments away? Do you have a fundraising plan?

Every non-profit, no matter how small, needs a fundraising plan. Every organization needs someone who will take responsibility for development efforts, who will drive the program and be accountable.

For Mid-Sized Non-Profits…

If you are working for or with a mid-sized non-profit, one that raises $500,000 – $5,000,000 per year, how much of your annual revenue are you re-investing in your fundraising efforts?

Smart businesses know that in order to grow, they need to reinvest a portion of their profits into sales and marketing. Smart non-profits know that in order to grow and carry out charitable mission, they need to reinvest a portion of their fundraising revenues into building a strong development organization.

Do you have a full-time development director? Is it time to hire one?

Do you have a professional fundraising database? Is it time to buy one?

Do you have well-designed marketing materials? Are you holding non-ask events? Have you looked at starting a planned giving program?

The only way to prevent stagnation is to continually push for new prospects, meetings, opportunities and asks.

For Larger Non-Profits…

If you work for a larger non-profit (many hospitals, universities, and major metropolitan social service agencies fall into this category) you may think this article isn’t for you. I know from experience, however, that just because an organization has 200+ people on their development staff (some major universities and national organizations have more), it doesn’t mean they are taking fundraising as seriously as they should.

If you work for one of these large organizations, are your people thinking outside of the box? Are you seizing new fundraising opportunities online, through social media, and by building fundraising networks outside of your traditional constituencies? When was the last time you performed a development audit or re-wrote your development plan?

Even large fundraising organizations need to grow and expand, seek new revenue sources, and constantly re-evaluate their development strategies.

As non-profits (of any size) we need to take fundraising seriously. If our mission matters, we need to do everything we can to make sure that we grow and expand our programs, and to ensure our sustainability for years to come.