Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Development (Fundraising) Process

As a small nonprofit that is just beginning or even a nonprofit seeking to build up your donor base, it is vital to keep the steps to successful fundraising in mind.

Development (Fundraising) is a process and it is equally a full set of systems that comprise that process and we'll explain that in more detail later.

Your overall objective is raising money, correct?  Your goal (which is best matched to your budget and vice versa) determines your measurement for whether or not you've achieved that objective.

In some respects you are introducing people to your organization and helping them to learn more about it by engaging them in organizational activities.  As you meet people through a variety of events,  opportunities, even mailings, etc. you begin to "cultivate" these prospects.  

  • Cultivation is step ONE in the development process.  Cultivation occurs in every meaningful contact related to your organization and that individual, foundation, or business/corporation.  From a solicitation done through direct mail because they were on a list of businesses from your local chamber of commerce to a lunch you scheduled with them to share more about your organization to an event for your organization to which you invited them.   Cultivation can also include birthday, anniversary, and Christmas cards as well as sending a newspaper article about a common interest to say, "hey, I thought about you when I saw this."  All of those steps are cultivation.

As you determine a specific strategy for a prospect, you begin to be more involved in steps that could better be described as Solicitation.  Solicitation starts when you begin to introduce your prospect to a specific way or ways they can help support your organization.

  • Solicitation is step TWO in the development process.  Solicitation occurs when you realize that Mr. Jones is very interested in private, Christian education and he and his family attended Christian schools.  His business is close in proximity to your school and does business as a vendor.  He has both the personal affinity to your organization and is related to it through business.  You may need a new Scoreboard in your gym that would cost approximately $5,000 and based on your research, that would be a gift he could make.  Your job now is to determine your strategy for soliciting Mr. Jones.

After you've successfully asked Mr. Jones for his gift of $5,000 to purchase the scoreboard in the gym, you need to be sure to steward this donor and the relationship he has with your organization.  This is a common sense step unfortunately all-too-often overlooked.

  • Stewardship is step THREE in the development process.  Stewardship can also involve birthday, anniversary, and Christmas cards but it also includes a photo of that beautiful scoreboard with Mr. Jones and your students with the press release sent to the local papers.  It includes continuing the connection and continually working on the relationship so that the donor feels connected to his gift after it has been given.  All of these details will ensure that the next time you have a need which fits with Mr. Jones' giving interests, he will be more likely to help again.

Check back next week and we'll unpack the cultivation step a little more.  

Have a good week and happy fundraising!

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