Raising enough money to keep your nonprofit organization up and running is a daunting task. It's even more daunting when you fundraise in a nonprofit with only one (or maybe only a couple) development staffers. Having insight into the nuances of the fundraising process and planning ahead will let you make the most of your limited time and resources if you have to take on this big hurdle.
Judy Levine and Susan Gabriels of Cause Effective shared tools and advice on effective fundraising at the April 8 program hosted at the New York library/learning center, Don't Go it Alone: Successful Fundraising for Small/One-Person Development Shops. Here are some of the major points they made about leveraging limited time, resources, and people-power to meet an organization's needs:
"Double-Dip" during the development cycle
Gabriels and Levine shared their break-down of the different activities that constitute the development cycle and what percentage of your time should be spent on each. They recommended that you spend:
- 5% on Identification
- 90% on Cultivation
- 2% on solicitation
- 3% on Recognition
Make your focus cultivation, but make your efforts multifaceted so that all other aspects of the development cycle get your attention. A gala, for example, can be part cultivation (people have a good time, learn more, get invested), part identification (you get new people interested, and you can ask supporters to bring a friend), part recognition (thank top donors or list their names in a program), and part solicitation (include an "ask" at the event). Get more bang for your buck!
It's not just who YOU know.
It's time to change the way we think about fundraising networks and the way in which we approach them. The question is not "who do we know so we can ask them for money?" – The better question is "Who can we get to ask for us?" You can build a fundraising network exponentially by building on strong partnerships; when your supporters know your organization well, they will be mobilized to reach out to friends and colleagues who might be interested enough to support it as well. Gabriels and Levine explained how you can enlist the support of your board, staff, volunteers, and even clients/constituents to support your fundraising efforts.
They also offered a tool to help you prioritize your work; LIA for short, this tool stands for Linkage - Interest - Ability, the three things you consider when deciding how much time to spend on a prospect.
- Are they linked to you or someone in your organization?
- Are they interested in your work and/or your issue?
- Do they have the ability to help you?
Asking these questions will let you clarify who can really support you. Prioritizing will also allow you to identify tasks that are imperative and those that could fall through the cracks if worse came to worst.
Fail to Plan? Plan to Fail! It's good to have a written fundraising plan no matter how many people work in development in your organization, but it's even more critical if you're shouldering the burden alone. Having a fundraising plan will help you prioritize your work, delegate tasks, and manage your time.
Time can be on your side. Learning new tools to manage your time can also help you do your best fundraising. Gabriels and Levine shared a "time management" matrix that can help you identify whether tasks are "important/unimportant" and "urgent/not urgent." And remember, don't be afraid to take time for yourself! If you're the engine driving your organization's fundraising efforts, you're an important asset. Take a walk, eat a healthy lunch, and get enough sleep so that you don't end up burned out and stressed out.
Thanks, as always, to our wonderful guest speakers, Judy Levine and Susan Gabriels!
-- Reilly Kiernan, Educational Services Fellow