Learn the basics and follow my quick and easy case study with this example for ABC Health. You learned how to develop an overall diversified fundraising plan in my last blog (see previous blog post How to Assess a Fundraising Plan. If you missed it go back and read that one and then come back to this page). We will now cover the details – the nitty gritty in implementing a diversified fundraising plan.
As you scroll through the sample plan, remember my shortened titles: ED = Executive Director, DD = Development Director, PD = Program Director.
After setting the revenue goals in each revenue line item, assign one staff member and one board member to be the lead in each category. Why? This emphasizes the team approach, builds in accountability and demonstrates a diversified effort.
Then define the target market in each category. This is where a donor analysis comes in. Looks at giving trends and define your donor profile. Another way to look at it is to calculate the number of donors and average gifts for each category. For example, 200 individuals x $50 avg gift = $10,000 for small donors or 4 grants x $5,000 = $20,000 from foundations. Your strategy and materials needed are based on your target market. What strategies do they respond to and what will you need to implement that strategy?
Individual donors can be broken out into two categories: small and major donors. It is important to nurture small donors because they will become your major donors in the future. First, send to all individuals a regular newsletter (hard copy, email, website and social media) profiling your accomplishments and outcomes. Emphasize the return on investment for all donors. What did their previous donation accomplish?
Small Individual Donors
Define small individual donors based on giving trends to your organization. You may define it as someone who gives less than $1,000 or less than $500. Because there will be many small donors, you will employ mass solicitation techniques such as direct mail, email and social media. You will also want to segment your message to small donors based on their giving frequency: loyal, habitual, lapsed and prospects. More on soliciting small donors in a future blog!
Major Individual Donors
Because there will be fewer major donors than small donors, you can create a more personalized solicitation approach. They will be cultivated with the same content as small donors but appeals can be face to face, by phone or a mailed major donor packet. You will also want to segment your message to major donors based on their giving frequency: loyal, habitual, lapsed and prospects. More on soliciting major donors in a future blog!
Clients or Members
All clients or members should pay something, whether your market is low income, affluent or mixed. Develop a sliding scale for program fees and make sure the high end pays for the full value of the service provided plus a little more to help subsidize those that need more help. Nobody should get any service for free. There is proven data that says a service is more appreciated if one pays something for that service, even if it is just a small token amount for those living on a limited income.
All board members should give a stretch gift. The amount can vary from person to person but should be a stretch or “above and beyond” gift for that person. Your organization should be one of the top 3 groups to which each board member gives. Otherwise, why are they serving on your board? Because it can be awkward for a staff member to solicit the board, board members should be solicited by the Board Chair.
I have a love-hate relationship with special events. They are very labor intensive yet some cultures require them for gift giving. I recommend that you create a large annual signature event and sponsor that event every year. Soon you will get a following. Sell individual tickets and get corporate sponsors. That is where the real money is. Work with the marketing department of the corporation and show that your donors and clients/members are the same target market as theirs. That way corporate sponsorship becomes a win-win by becoming a marketing investment to increase exposure among their customers and prospects.
Make sure the event addresses the culture of the community. For example, a 5K Run does well in Colorado but may not be a draw in other parts of the country. Since special events are labor intensive, make sure you have a large volunteer committee (board members, auxiliary members, interns) so that your staff can spend more time on the mission.
Grant writing is fairly easy. You simply follow a formula when writing a proposal. Many regional associations of grantmakers develop a common grant application so that as many foundations as possible use similar formats. The key to successful grant writing is cultivating a relationship with the foundation. You must learn who to ask, what to ask for and how to build a relationship. You do not mass mail proposals to all the foundations in your area. You must carefully research foundations whose funding priorities match your needs and then work on cultivating a relationship with that funder. Most foundations list their guidelines on their website.
After you have carefully researched their priorities and are fairly sure it fits, call and introduce yourself and ask questions. Tell them a little bit about the project and make sure it is a fit. Work on building a relationship. Only do this after you have done some initial research. For example, do not waste the time of a funder who only funds a region outside yours or who only funds environmental causes when you are in the health care field. Most funders have a geographic restriction to a certain state and restrict funding to certain issues or topics such as early childhood education or water quality. Very few foundations are open to all issues and all states.
Get to know foundation staff at non-profit conferences, panel discussions, and other community events. Once you get a viable list of foundations that fund in your issue area, research their grant deadlines and proposal guidelines. Create a grants schedule by deadlines and submit at least one proposal every week or two. Some foundations will have no deadlines so intersperse those among the schedule of those with fixed deadlines.
Bottom line: You will spend far more time on research and cultivation than you will on actual grant writing. Watch for more information on How to Write a Successful Grant Proposal in future blogs.
There are two primary avenues to get corporate support: 1) Some corporations have a corporate foundation and you submit a grant proposal to them, just like you would submit to a community foundation. 2) You can also go to the Marketing Department and seek corporate sponsorships of your organization, a program you are undertaking, or a special event. In these cases, it is important that you show that your donors and clients or members are their target market. Get to know key corporate staff at chamber of commerce meetings, career fairs, city events and non-profit conferences.
Faith-Based and Civic Organizations
Faith based giving is fruitful because studies show that those who participate in a faith-based organization give more than those who do not and it can encompass many levels: individuals, congregations, regional conferences, and the national office.
Start with your board of directors to find any faith based connections. Ask to make a presentation to the congregation, pastor, rabbi or mission committee. It is much easier to get such a presentation if you have an advocate who is a member of that faith based community. Make sure you have a sign-up sheet at your presentation. That way, you can solicit the mission committee for a church-wide gift and also solicit members for individual gifts. In many denominations, once you get the support of a church, you can move to the next level which is usually a diocese, presbytery, or regional conference. From there, you can work your way up to the national office of the denomination, which generally requires a standard proposal and the support of a regional conference.
Civic organizations like Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, and other civic minded groups often exist to provide leadership skills for its members and to raise money for community service organizations. Each club has a different focus, so learn the focus of local clubs and ask to make a presentation to the group when you find a match. Many such clubs are always looking for guest speakers and this is a good way to get on their radar. Once you have made a presentation, ask about their grants or donation process. Most Rotary Clubs have a proposal process much like foundations but only focus on a specific issue area.
There are four levels to approach government for support: city, county, state and federal. Most government entities award contracts and/or grants for public service programs, especially areas like heath, education, job training, and other types of social services. The opportunities widely vary from region to region so the best way to start is talk to people at the local level and work your way up.
Most federal grants are only accessible to large organizations that can reach many clients and have the monitoring and evaluation capacity to be able to provide the extensive reporting required by the federal government.
If you are a small, community-based organization, your best bets are watching for a Request for Proposal (RFP) from your city, county and state. Most government entities only award money once a year and have stringent guidelines. It always helps to cultivate an ally on the City Council, County Commission or in the State Legislature to help you maneuver the system.
There are many ways you can earn income for your organization. I am a big fan of social enterprise, where you develop and sell goods and services for which there is a market but also serve the common good. Think of a service or product that is needed and that is a fit for your mission and organizational skills. Examples could be: job training, directory of health care providers, food service, solar devices, consulting services, or a retail shop. If you have tangible marketable products, sell them at local fairs and on your website. If you are well-versed on a timely issue, colleges and universities often provide honoraria for speaking engagements.
That’s it for an overview of implementing a diversified fundraising plan.