Fundraising in Nonprofit Organizations
Success in Fundraising
Organizations adopt various ways of raising funds with some paying attention to high dollar corporate fundraisings while others seek grants from foundations. One of the most common modes of fundraising that have emerged is online and social media campaigns. Regardless of the manner in which a firm seeks to raise money, every fundraising event could either be an achievement or a failure. The definition of success in fundraising depends on some elements such as having clear goals. For any fundraising event to be successful, it must have clear objectives right from the start. The organizers understand what they want to achieve and plan a strategy that will meet these goals.
Some of the questions that guide a successful fundraising event include whether the project hopes to acquire new donors or to expand its already existing donor base or if the sought support is for necessitating a new initiative. Success in fundraising starts with detailing the apparent objectives of the event in the initial planning stages (Polivy 98). Success in fundraising results from adhering to the company’s brand. Nonprofit firms rarely use the term brand. However, it is key to separate the personal and organizational values of the enterprise when planning to fundraise. An event that embraces professional ethos yields positively. The design of the fundraising exercise has to accommodate the firm’s brand as one way of wooing supporters who could turn into long-term donors.
A fundraising effort cannot bear much fruit in the absence of the right resources. Even though the core goal of fundraising is to generate money, it is an expensive exercise. For instance, it costs staff time thus creating a high opportunity cost that could see the organization losing money. Therefore, a successful fundraising activity observes a well thought-out budget that captures costs such as staff time and other direct expenses and compares them to the revenue projections expected (Worth 227). As a result, it is easier to understand the intended return on investment before embarking on the exercise.
Community, Behavioral, Ethical, and Organizational Components of Success in Fundraising
Ethical. When nonprofit organizations make a plan to solicit for funds, they must clearly state the ways in which they wish to spend the amount raised. They must ensure they do not assign the funds to other uses other than the initially reported one or else they will lose the trust of the donor (Polivy 87). Moreover, when funders witness the honesty of the firm in utilizing the funds for the right functions, they feel encouraged to invite other prospects in supporting the organization.
Community. The identified need which prompts the business to solicit for funds must have some relevance to the community. For instance, the aim could be to promote education, health, culture, or any aspects that seek to improve the society’s wellbeing. However, community needs such as health is a broad subject, and donors want to know a particular need that the money raised will help to address. Therefore, fundraisers must narrow down their objective to more discrete needs such as extending comprehensive services to the elderly people suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease.
Organizational. Every business enterprise has a strategic plan that drives its operations. Fundraisers should thus not solicit for funds if the objective of the exercise does not align with the company’s strategic plan. It is the obligation of the board members to plan the fundraising activity based on the strategic goals of the organization (Worth 336). The team should critically evaluate the internal and external factors that could hinder the firm from realizing the short-term and long-term goals of the company and seek ways of confronting them. When it is clear that the enterprise does not have the financial abilities to sustain its operations, it can thus resolve to fundraise. The fundraising activity should never take place before the organization has apparently determined the gaps that need addressing with the resources realized (Worth 412).
Behavioral. Fundraisers must refrain from giving false reports about the beneficiaries of the solicited funds to the potential donor hoping to get support from them. For instance, if the elderly people suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease in the society do not have sufficient primary care essential in managing their conditions, fundraisers should solicit funds to source for more caregivers. They should not say, for instance, that the aging also lacks in other basics such as shelter. They should always state facts (Worth 459). If a donor contributes funds during a time when they lack the capacitation to do so, it is fair for the fundraiser to return the donation.
Barriers to Success in Fundraising
It is a grave matter for an organization to engage in fundraising without first defining the purpose of the raised funds. It is thus effective to start with proper planning to determine how the funds raised will be put into use. As a result, it is essential not only to ask for a certain amount from potential donors but to explain a definite plan of action as well as the desired outcome of the exercise (Worth 417). For instance, a fundraiser could send a message to potential donors requesting them to donate $10 to reduce the cases of malaria attacks in Africa.
The appeal is not a strong one because it has neither explained how the $10 will reduce malaria in Africa nor the expected outcome. It would have been better for the solicitor to include that the donation will buy mosquito nets for all the vulnerable populations in Africa thus increasing their resistance to the deadly disease by 70 percent. Once a potential donor discovers the positive outcome that their donation will create in the society, they become more willful to contribute.
Secondly, if the fundraiser only remembers to contact the donors when they need support, the campaign is likely to bear insignificant fruits. People will only feel charitable towards organizations they value and care about their development. Therefore, it is vital to build sound relationships with the donors by occasionally contacting them to check on their progress but not reaching out to them only when the need to solicit for funds has risen (Polivy 223). Instead, the fundraiser should involve the donors to be part of their considerable efforts where they feel they have a role to play.
It is fundamental to make the fundraising affair a joint effort where the donors feel obliged to fulfill their part. Fundraisers should thus come up with an essential communication pattern where they regularly keep in touch with the donors (Polivy 124). For instance, the nonprofit firms should occasionally send updates about their progress to the donors or surprise them with ‘thank you’ notes. They should always remember to share their success stories with the people who supported them in achieving big milestones.
Structuring the Fund-raising Department
A competent leader of any nonprofit organization understands the core objectives of the fundraising department and structures the unit to meet these goals. Firstly, the structure should be in such a way that 80 percent of the effort goes to raising funds to attend to the needs of the vulnerable populations (Worth 114). The remaining 20 percent is to help the firm by being mindful about its brand. In the first objective of the structure, employees should care more about building healthy relationships with their donors instead of getting them to give out donations (Polivy 98). Therefore, the department has to make the potential donors a part of their team and welcome them to enjoy a sense of ownership in the charitable exercises.
They should make an effort of involving their donors in every step of their progress, for instance, sharing their objectives with them. As a result, the donors feel the value of their support, and will be willing to continue because the fundraisers have already become open about their strategic use of the donations. Donors can even suggest more viable ways of meeting the needs of the vulnerable populations because they are already aware of the real situations in the ground and feel obligated to work in partnership with the nonprofit organization (Polivy 78). Much of the firm’s resources should thus go to establishing stable relationships with donors.
The next objective of the fundraising unit within a nonprofit organization is allocating some firms’ resources to building and maintaining the brand of the company (Worth 94). The public must receive a positive image of the organization through effective PR and events. Once a firm has planned and managed an event, it only succeeds in securing dollars but not donors. Such a self-funding branding strategy leaves the general public with a positive attitude of the firm. Even though the activity still realizes funds for the organization, it goes beyond the money aspect into promoting the brand.
Organizational Culture That Fosters Ethical Fundraising Professionals
Nonprofit leaders should foster a fundraising team that demonstrates respect for the donors. For instance, they can display their appreciation to the funders through sending them timely gift acknowledgments. As a result, the donors feel even more appreciated to support the firm in its future endeavors (Polivy 184). Further, the fundraising team should submit reports to foundations in promptly manner which indicates that they value their donors and will update them on the progress of the organization.
Leaders should further ensure that their fundraising staff honors the donors’ requests by not listing them on their websites if they choose to remain anonymous. However, for those who do not mind the rest of the world to know about their supportive role in the running of the nonprofit business, it is an honorable thing to list them down on the website (Worth 470). Leaders should also educate their team members on how to manage the donors’ expectations regarding the acceptable and unacceptable donations of the nonprofit entity. For instance, if the donors donate used computers, the fundraiser professional can reject the offer in a decent manner citing the company policy on donating used staff (473).
Polivy, Deborah Kaplan. Donor Cultivation and the Donor Lifecycle Map. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014. Print. Pgs. 17-226. ISBN – 978-1-118-60377-2.
Worth, Michael J. Fundraising Principles and Politics. New York, NY: SAGE Publications, 2016. Print. Pgs. 67- 486. ISBN – 978-1-4833-1952-0.