Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fundraising Basics: 2 - Board Commitment

Board commitment / understanding

A board that doesn't understand fundraising will cripple you.

There is no point embarking on a fundraising strategy without some fundamental basics.
  1. Fundraising is expensive. The the most important variable for how much a charity raises is how much it spends.
  2. Most fundraised income in most countries comes from donations from individuals.
  3. It can take well over a year to generate net contribution - ie income you spend on services - from most fundraising programs.
  4. Fundraising works best when there is a clear need, and your organisation is good at addressing that need.
  5. Fundraising works best when you are able to demonstrate that need and ASK the prospect to help. Hinting, or implying they should help does not work as well as asking. "Please, send $50 to reach me by 20 January so that I can..." is a proper ask.
  6. There is no room for hope or luck in fundraising. Plan and make things happen - including making sure the ask happens.
  7. Skimping on expenditure usually holds things back - just like anything in life, you get what you pay for. It is more expensive to get an experienced fundraiser than an enthusiastic new graduate, but the time taken training the new person will cost you more in lost opportunity than paying for a more expensive person. The same goes for volunteers. Asking volunteers to be in charge of your fundraising, is like asking a volunteer to be a pilot. It is cheaper but I wouldn't want to be on that plane.
  8. The board should set key measures and delegate authority to the fundraiser. They should not interfere in day to day decisions, writing copy, discussing design etc, this is not the job of the board.
  9. If board members are not prepared to ask people for money, they have to let their staff do it without interference.
  10. Net income is more important than cost of fundraising.
  11. There is no magic pill. It is not easy!
Even though it was produced in response to fundraising in difficult economic times, my whitepaper illustrating the top tips for fundraising in a recession is a useful paper to give boards as a bit of a reality check for fundraising in general. It can be requested by signing up on our website here.

Sean Triner

1 comment:

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