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Blog > What goes into a fundraising strategy?

What goes into a fundraising strategy?

posted on May 25, 2017

by Maria Lahiffe

Is fundraising at for your organization one of the main issues keeping you up at night? Perhaps you are concerned that income at your non-profit is stagnating, or worse, declining.

The key to successful fundraising is in being strategic in how you go about it. A fundraising strategy has the following key elements:

Case for Support

You case for support provides the who, what, why, and when of your organization or project. It should persuade and inspire, rather than educate. It should be goal-driven. Be really clear about

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Who do you intend to reach?
  • What do you want people to care about?
  • Most importantly, what do you want people to do? Spell this out clearly.

Once you have a draft of your case for support, test it. See how people react. What is their main takeaway? Most especially, what do they feel compelled to do as a result of reading it? If they don’t feel compelled to action, you probably want to rework your case for support to make it more persuasive, or to spell out the call to action more clearly.

Determine your Priorities

Your priorities will stem from your organizational goals, which should be part of your strategic plan. (You have a strategic plan, right? If not, check out our blog post on this topic and maybe contact us about a custom session to facilitate its development.) Some questions to ask at this stage are:

  • Do you need money for a project (i.e. restricted funding) or for core operations (unrestricted), or a combination of both?
  • Do you need the funding now, or later? How much of it do you need now? If later, how much later?
  • How much money do you want to raise?
  • How much can you invest in fundraising – in time? In money?
  • What are you doing that is already working?

Your Funder Relationships

Where can you find funders? Start by looking at your existing networks. People support other people, not ideas. Think of your existing contacts and connections. Who does your staff know? Your board? Who is in your network? Who is in their networks? Once you have a relationship, work hard to cultivate it. Get to know the person, what makes them tick. What is their passion? If their passion does not align with your case for support, then don’t waste their time by asking for money. Maybe you could refer them to someone who is working on a project which is aligned with their passion. That karma will come back to you.

Ethical Policies

Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Your organization should have policies in place regarding acceptance of funds. For example, would you accept funding from a tobacco company? A company whose owner also actively supports anti-LGBT+ efforts? Think about this ahead of time, so that you and your team know how to respond when these instances come up.

Resourcing your Program

It costs money to make money. It takes time and person-power to develop and maintain relationships. If you put in a lot of effort for three months, then withdraw all support for your fundraising program, then those relationships will be worse off than if you had never started. Fundraising is generally a long game. Think about what you can afford to invest long-term.

Fundraising is one of the most important facets of running a successful non-profit organization, since the impact you can have is directly related to the amount of resources you can devote. If you can hire more frontline workers, then you can work with more people. You absolutely need to have a strategy to bring in money.

Want to learn more? Come to our upcoming course on fundraising strategy, where local fundraising expert Mena Gainpaulsingh will take you through the whole process of developing your strategy.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to all aspects of running a non-profit or a charity. Click here for our event calendar. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

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