Fundraising Strategy: What You Should Think About
This is not a ‘how to’ guide; this is my experience of inheriting the good, the bad and the downright ugly of fundraising strategies, before going on to write several of my own. When tasked with writing a fundraising strategy, you should ask yourself the following questions:
What do you need the money for?
Everything stems from this – if you’re not 100% clear and passionate about the need for your cause, then how will you convince anyone else to give? How much is your organisation looking for per year, and for what – running costs; delivery of work; or new projects?
Where’s the money going to come from?
Look to the past, but don’t be hidebound by it. You may have some strong income streams or loyal groups of donors; sadly, you may not. Whatever the case, don’t be disheartened: start with a clean page, whilst learning from past experiences. For example, look at which supporters are happy, disgruntled, or have a lot of influence – but remember not to be donor led. What types of fundraising have been done, and why? What’s been avoided? What makes your Board and colleagues nervous?
Then turn to the future. Where else might you look for funding? What are your organisation’s future plans? Are you refreshing the story of the same ongoing work; are you looking for money for new and exciting projects; or a bit of both?
Who can you go to for help?
And who can you not? In some organisations, fundraisers are still the bete noire; in others, teams distance themselves from the fundraising department because they don’t understand what we do. Does your board have a good understanding of fundraising? That’s important, too. Having a good relationship with your colleagues, board, and those who deliver your projects is crucial to understanding the work of your organisation, and in the delivery of a solid fundraising strategy.
Turn to other fundraisers for help – network like crazy, find out what other similar organisations are doing to raise funds, not only from their websites but by asking for help. Scotland’s not a big place, and the Institute in Scotland is a great source of knowledge and friends. Why not join a Special Interest Group, for example?
What’s the plan, Stan?
Eventually, you need to stop researching and planning, and simply sit down to write your strategy. Involve others in your team (if you have one!); be a leader and get their input and opinion. Remember, you’ll need their buy in to carry out the strategy.
Once you’ve written your strategy, keep it on your desk or have it pinned up on the wall. You and your fundraising colleagues should refer to it constantly. Your strategy is merely a starting point for the next three to five years of fundraising activity; remember to be flexible, and update it regularly.
For more information, here are some useful links:
Ann Ward, Fundraising & Communications Manager, SCIAF & member of the Scottish Executive Committee