Gabrielle Ritchie, Director: The Change Room
27th May 2016
Are you fit for fundraising? What do you need to know to attract funding resources to your organisation?
A quick bullet list for you (ok, it might have got a bit long):
- There are no shortcuts in raising money. No quick fixes. No cutting corners.
- You have to have your governance in order. This is critical. No donor is going to fund an organisation with poor governance. See http://www.governance.org.za for the Independent Code of Governance for Non-profit Organisations in South Africa. You can sign on to the Code.
- You have to have a plan – a plan for your work and a plan for your resourcing of that work. You know the line – failing to plan is planning to fail. For a video discussion of the role and importance of planning in organisations see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eMDReWepAw
- You have to be able to demonstrate excellent financial management – where everything tallies, regular financial reports are sent to your funders, and you have annual audited financial statements. There isn’t really any way around this.
- You need the skills and capacity to raise funds properly and professionally – however you parcel the work out, delegate to board members, get volunteers on board. Next week I will be posting on the basic skills sets required for effective organisational resourcing – keep a look-out.
- Your organisation must be clear about its mission, and must speak with one voice to communicate clear and coherent shared messages. For good resources on this go to www.askinyathelo.org.za.
- You must build a profile for your work – traditional media, social media, networking events, community forums etc. However you do it, you must share stories about what you do. For a video discussion of this in the South African context go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXuoE-QX5Tc
- You must have the required skills to implement your projects. Signs of poor project implementation means you either won’t get the money, or you might have to give money back to the donor. For a short list of key skills go to http://askinyathelo.org.za/essential-skills-for-an-advancement-operation/
- Fundraising is an organisation-wide endeavour. Everyone is involved – either in providing excellent services, implementing great programmes, answering the phone professionally, writing good content and reports, managing the money, making sure your IT network functions, keeping your organisation’s premises clean. Everyone. Make sure they know that, and that they feel part of the team.
- Writing an annual report, no matter how short and simple, is a great way to make and keep friends.
- You must have a well-crafted case for support – so that you can explain simply and swiftly why what you do is important, and the ways in which your organisation provides unique value to the context in which you work. Know why you are special. Be able to speak about that with confidence.
- You know how everyone talks about proposal writing? It is one of the least important parts of the process of raising money. Well, it is not the most important – but for key things that donors look for in your approach to them, here is a short overview called The Power Pitch: non-profits on a mission to attract funding.
- The most important part is your capacity to speak passionately and expertly about your work and what you seek to achieve – to donors, to the people you work with, to potential partners, to relevant people in government, to the media.
- And finally (kind of…) – know how to engage professionally with your donors and your potential donors. Loads of people are wanting to access funding, so don’t mess your chances up by being sloppy, unprofessional, and by not following the basic rules.
- What are the basic rules? Communicate with your donors, be very very sure to thank them appropriately, acknowledge them in ways that work for both the donor and for your organisation, and keep them posted – on progress, on impact, on achievements, on milestones. Even on bad news, failures, things going wrong – don’t hide this stuff. Communicate! An e-mail, a phone-call, a handwritten letter, an image, an invitation to an event – it doesn’t matter how you do it, but keep doing it. Communicate.
- To do all that, you have to manage your donor contact data. You must know who supports you and how to contact them. Keeping this data up-to-date, with well-managed information on donor history with your organisation – critical.
Just to say it again – THANK and ACKNOWLEDGE. Communicate and keep contact data.