Fundraising When You Are Feeling the Squeeze

cutting moneyIs your organization feeling the squeeze in its funding? Are you having to focus more on cutting expenses than on developing your programs and services?

You are not alone. Here are some tips from professional fundraisers that can help…

Fundraising professionals agree that success unpredictable economic times involves intentional planning and attending to foundational philanthropic practices.  The following is a list of core elements for your organization to have in place to build resiliency and help manage the challenges as they arise:

  • Compelling Mission Statement—a clearly articulated, dynamic and impactful mission appeals to people’s interests, creating value for the organization and its mission in their minds and hearts.  

Most people want to make a positive difference through their actions and their charitable giving. They want to know their contributions will make a difference because your organization is making a difference in people’s lives and communities. Leaders must be prepared–individually and collectively–to articulate the organization’s mission, purposes and vision in appealing and compelling ways to elicit heightened levels of engagement and generosity among your supporters.   

  • Assess and acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges (threats), building on your strengths and opportunities while strategically managing your weaknesses and challenges.

Self-awareness is key. Conduct a thorough and candid analysis of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats/challenges (SWOT). Translate the results into an action plan that will maximize your strengths and opportunities–these are your organizational assets. As leaders you can use this self-awareness and knowledge to plan realistically and work effectively to navigate the challenges and overcome the barriers to success.

  • Avoid dramatic shifts in fundraising methods and staffing.

Most organizations rely on their professional and support staff to maintain week-to-week functions, particularly record-keeping and finance. Some organizations have a smaller infrastructure and leaner staffing. At times of heightened financial anxiety, the needs seem to increase and feel more urgent, sometime prompting desperate actions. Staff and Board leaders must work with intention to employ effective fundraising methods and stewardship practice that will sustain the organization over time. 

  • Keep public relations and marketing strong.

Work to increase your visibility through a well designed website, public witness, media coverage, and partnering with other organizations with common values. Experiment with social media venues, crowd-funding, and other innovative and lower-cost technology. Pay close attention to what modes of communication people elicit the best response–do more of what works best with your constituents and donors.

  • Build support by spreading the enthusiasm about what the organization is doing.

As leaders, it is essential to talk in positive ways about your organization:  what you are excited about, how the organization is supported financially, and what you are doing to make good things happen. Avoid the vortex of negativity or doom and gloom about your financial limitations. You are the public face and voice of the organization and its mission.  Your enthusiasm for your mission and the positive difference your organization is making will catch peoples’ interest and inspire their generous support.

  • Inspire trust in the leadership of your organization. Practice accountability and authentic communication.

Share information about how contributions are used to fulfill the organization’s mission and purpose.  Educate donors and volunteers about the importance supporting your mission and the causes you stand for over time.  Don’t gloss over the rough spots, but don’t over-focus on your limitations. This information should be readily available upon request or in general ways on your website.

  • Meet and communication with donors regularly, informing them of the organization’s needs.  Invite questions, feedback, and ideas for improvement.

A relational approach to fundraising is essential to sustain the highest levels of generosity and giving to the organization.  Regular personal contacts throughout the year via phone, email, and postal mail are critical to promoting strong relational ties to the organization, the wider faith, and partner organizations. Individual volunteers and donors need to know they are valued and important to the organization beyond any financial contributions they make.  Saying “Thank You” in as many ways possible is a priority. 

Remember that fundraising requires a highly relational approach that demonstrates your organization’s commitment to its mission and to those whose lives are touched by its mission.

inter-connectedness hands around the world

DEFINING YOUR FUNDING PRIORITIES–Identify up to 6 fundraising priorities, with 3 action steps for each priority area:

Priority #1

Priority #2

Priority #3

Priority #4

Priority #5

Priority #6

Once you have identified your funding priorities, put your annual development and stewardship plan in writing using the following format and information:

  • Generate your compelling case for funding support
  • Write up a concise one-page description of each priority area/program for sharing with donors and funders
  • Estimate the costs of funding your programs and operations
  • Identify your funding sources–individual, groups, businesses, grants, foundations/corporate giving programs–estimating the revenue goal for each
  • Create materials or presentations about your funding priorities with the interests of each donor or group in mind
  • Develop a timeline for your plan
  • Know what you will track and measure for successful outcomes
  • Evaluation of the plan at regular intervals
  • Adjustments that could be made if necessary
  • Celebrate any and all successes!

Wishing you great prosperity and success,

Laurel Amabile portrait 2

 

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Laurel Amabile, Giving Speaks

 

Other Helpful Planning Resources:

Fundraising When Money is Tight, by Mal Warwick. 2009. Jossey-Bass.

Raising More with Less, by Amy Eisenstein, CFRE. 2012. Charity Channel Press–“In the Trenches” series.

Creating a Compelling Case for Funding

Development Planning Template

 

10 Resolutions for Strategic Fundraising in 2015

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#1-   Revisit our Mission and Purpose—We will regularly check back with our mission and talk about our purpose as an organization. We identify the values and beliefs upon which we base our programs, services, and activities and ask ourselves if these are in alignment. What’s at the heart of our organization? What about the things we do really matters in the world?

global-sight-world-vision-vector_GkJY-gv_#2-    Clarify our Strategic Vision—When we focus our attention on the alignment of our mission, purpose and programs, we ask ourselves what we must DO over the next one to three years to demonstrate our highest expression of mission and purpose. How can we stretch to new heights and make an even bigger difference?

#3-    Evaluate our Funding Priorities—Rather than simply hoping to raise more money to meet our basic needs, we identify three or four funding priorities that clearly reflect our mission and vision. We will breathe energy and give life to these priorities and communicate them in compelling ways to our donors and supporters.

#4-    Develop Realistic Goals for Funding—We will carefully track and measure our fundraising development from one year to the next, learning about our giving and spending patterns and assessing our potential for growth. We set realistic, yet aspirational funding goals that inspire us and our donors

#5-    Create a Fund Development Plan—In deeply considering our aspirations and goals, we work to create a comprehensive fund development plan for the year. Thionline calculator colors will be a plan to can be assessed and adjusted throughout the year, while serving as a guide in our fundraising, budgeting, and stewardship efforts.

#6-    Calculate the Cost of Fundraising—We realize that fulfilling our mission and funding our priorities involves an investment of money (and energy and time) so that sufficient funding can be raised and affirmed. Rather than cutting costs to the bare bones, we carefully calculate reasonable costs for quality fundraising activities and materials.

#7-    Establish a Master Fundraising & Communication Calendar—It is essential that our organization integrate its fundraising activities and communications with the other events and activities we schedule throughout the year. This helps us avoid scheduling that competes with our annual funding activities and also helps us see the opportunities for educating and promoting giving throughout the year.

#8-    Expwatering-money-tree-vector-illustration_zyGeCRv_and our Donor Circle—One important way to expand our funding is to attract new people to our organization who value what we do and want to be more involved. This may be through membership, participation in our programs, crowd-funded projects, or by affirming our mission with periodic contributions.

#9-     Report Back and Say Thank You—We will commit to reporting back to our donors and constituents on a regular basis throughout the year. We will show them and tell them how their funds and support are making a difference. AND, we will explicitly thank them, over and over!

#10-   Evaluate and Celebrate—The best way to learn what works or doesn’t work is to test tried and true methods and new ideas, then evaluate the outcomes. The more we learn about what our constituents and donors respond to, the more effective our fund development will be. Best of all, we will celebrate our progress and successes, knowing that people give to successful ventures that make a positive difference!

And then, we will prepare to do it all again next year!

Laurel 2012

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PS.–To help you get off to a great start in 2015, I hope you will contact me to schedule yourself or your leadership team for the latest free Giving Speaks webinar,  Seven Principles of Fundraising today: givingspeaks@gmail.com

Calling All Generations–ready, set, GIVE!

Friends Playing on the Beach

With each new generation coming into adulthood, cultures and patterns change. A recent Giving Speaks post Religion in the Age of the Nones (http://wp.me/p1xUUk-ms ) dealt with the significant changes and trends of decreased religious affiliation among younger adults. Just as important for religious and philanthropic organizations is to understand the differences among the generations when it comes to designing giving programs and fundraising appeals. One size does not fit all!

small-shoes In America there is an unprecedented transference of $40 Trillion in wealth occurring between the aging Mature and Baby Boomer generations and their children. It is essential that those who are raising funds to support charitable and religious organizations understand the varying approaches required in working with their donors in each generational cohort. Those in the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1942 and 1960) and the Mature Generation (born prior to 1945) were motivated to give for different reasons than young adults born after 1960. The elder givers are motivated to give to help meet the needs not met by governmental programs. They support religious and community organizations and are most comfortable responding to mail appeals and face-to-face requests. Baby Boomers are hearty supporters of secular causes. They give to religion, but at lower levels than their elders.

Trends and emerging giving patterns of younger adult donors are being studied, with what makes donors tickparticular attention being paid to the relatively small group receiving the largest share of the wealth and building their own net worth. These “Next Gen Donors” will be the philanthropists of the future and the major donors in America for several decades to come. It behooves all charitable, religious and philanthropic organizations to learn more what makes these younger, higher net worth donor prospects tick.

Philanthropic research over the past five years tells us is that Next Gen Donors (between the ages of 21 and 48) are generous people. These individuals want to know their contributions go to causes that matter most to them and move them emotionally. They take a “hands on” approach to their involvement with recipient organizations, because they want to know their charitable dollars are making the world a better place. Often this involves younger adults volunteering their time and talent as well as their money.

Among those in Net Gen Donors group, most of their charitable giving goes to secular causes, with less than half going to religion. This means that religious organizations must polish their stewardship strategies and employ current fundraising best practices, being much more proactive in their donor relationships. Next Gen Donors prefer online giving and are more comfortable with solicitation through social networking media channels. Their total annual charitable giving among younger adult donors ranges from $1,300 to $2,000 on average, and the levels most likely will increase over their lifetimes.

money online

Stewardship strategies and fundraising practices must be adapted to meet the challenges of greater competition for charitable dollars. Generation and technological trends must be taken into consideration when planning cultivation techniques and messaging for appeals.

Here are some generational characteristics and recommended fundraising approaches:

Youth_Haiti

Younger Adults (born mid-1980’s to present)

  • Think “multichannel” communication—mail appeals (hard copy), electronic appeals (email, e-newsletters), and online giving options (websites) are the top three channels for charitable giving.
  • Check-out donations—grocery stores, coffee shops, and businesses offering charitable giving opportunities with purchases.
  • Social media appeals from charitable organizations and religious communities with whom they have a relationship—ask your young volunteers and visitors for their contact information!
  • Peer-to-peer social, networking, and fundraising events—younger donor prospects like events that bring committed people together around causes and organizations of interest.
  • Encourage volunteer involvement and other ways of engaging in hands-on service and making a real difference in their communities.
  • Appeals that include information about the organization and its priorities, a request for a specific amount, and details about how contributions will be used, and a promise of quarterly progress updates.
  • Written appeals featuring the organization’s programs and services of greatest interest and relevance to younger adults, whether they are single, partnered, or parents of young children.

Middle-Aged Adults (born between mid-1940’s and late 1970’s) SSL Montclair

  • A large segment of this generational group came of age at a time of great idealism, anti-war and anti-establishment sentiments. Their idealistic fervor persists regardless political or religious affiliation.
  • Many are disenchanted with politics and religion, preferring to work hard for charitable causes that support grand moral movements, social justice advocacy, and hands-on service.
  • A good number grew up in families affected by divorce, high unemployment, and unsure financial futures. They tend to commit time and resources to strengthening relationships and communities.
  • Respond to mailed appeals and are increasingly comfortable with email appeals and online giving channels.
  • Check-out donations and charitable gift card benefit programs are effective giving options.
  • Appeal to their idealistic interests by featuring programs and services that address major societal issues and reform causes.
  • Peer-to-peer and in person meetings and community events are very effective in asking these adults for contributions.

elder with youth Mature Adults (born prior to 1942)

  • Civic causes, philanthropic organizations, and religious institutions are important to older adults who came of age in America during the World War II.
  • Printed mail appeals with detailed content are the familiar approach for this group, and their giving response is strong. Mature donors prefer to send a check by mail to the charities of their choice.
  • Messaging that emphasizes giving back, fair share, and regular contributing language is effective in appeals.
  • Leaving a legacy matters–encourage planned giving as a means of strengthening the institution and its mission and core values for future generations.

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Resources on Generational Trends and Differences:

21st Century Faith Formation http://www.21stcenturyfaithformation.com/index.html

Bhagat, Vinay; Loeb, Pam; Rovner, Mark. The Next Generation of American Giving. March 2010. Convio, Edge Research, and Sea Change Strategies.

Campbell & Company. Generational Differences in Charitable Giving and in Motivations for Giving. Report prepared for the Center on Philanthropy. May 2008.

Chronicle of Philanthropy. Philanthropy 400 Reflects Generational Shift in American Giving. October 17, 2010. http://philanthropy.com/article/A-Generational-Shift-in-Giving/124937/

Giving Speaks blog posts on multigenerational giving and generosity, and by age group.

Johnson, Grossnickle & Associates. Millennial Donors: A Study of Millennial Giving and Engagement Habits. Achieve. 2010. The Millennial Impact Report. http://www.themillennialimpact.com/research-2012