There are a myriad of things necessary to create an environment that will allow your nonprofit to significantly advance its mission. In fact, it’s extremely common for executive directors and board members to get overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to make progress. However, there are a few key areas that will ultimately determine your success or failure in building a comprehensive fundraising operation; one that will significantly advance your mission.
Leadership: Continuing to expand and build a strong staff and volunteer corps is critical to the long-term success of your organization. Building a board and donor constituency who give generously when asked is an art requiring special skills, strategies and experience.
Mission & Vision: Hopefully, your leadership (paid and volunteer) is really good at expressing the benefits and worthiness of the organization. If not, schedule a few in-services or workshops to get them up to speed.
Strategic Advancement Plan: No effective fundraising operation can succeed without a plan. The elements of a plan represent a detailed strategy to meet the fundraising goals of the organization. The plan must identify the reasons for giving, the opportunities for support, the roles volunteers will play, the timeline for action, the research necessary for solicitation and how you will evaluate success. The plan must also delineate the type of support (and prospects) being cultivated to ensure the right strategies are being employed.
Human Resources: Volunteer management is critical to the success of any fundraising organization. It has been said that the job of professional staff with development/fundraising responsibilities is to stimulate, coordinate and sustain the volunteer activity. Enthusiastic volunteers of stature and wealth are major players in the success of any development program.
Technology and Social Media: If you’re not aware of the way technology and social media are effecting how nonprofits raise money, you soon will be. From Facebook and Twitter to Foursquare and the latest iPhone app, businesses and nonprofits are building social media into the DNA of their enterprise. As of today, not some distant future, donors, volunteers, visitors, and guests are all using these tools to communicate, make decisions, and access the content they want to consume.
Philanthropy & Stewardship: Your philanthropic strategies and voluntary action must appeal to a wide variety of prospects and donors, not just people interested in “giving to charity”. Lots of organizations focused their annual giving program almost solely on charitable givers with little effort to attract strategic philanthropists.
How do you know if you’ve got all of these things working effectively and in harmony with each other? You conduct an independent fundraising audit. What’s that, you ask?
A fundraising audit is a detailed review of the internal and external factors that affect your ability to raise funds and significantly advance your mission. In short, it’s a systematic gathering of as much information as possible about the fundraising function, the environment in which it exists, and how these might be expected to change and develop in the coming years.
In the fundraising audits that I conduct, I not only scrutinize your past fundraising performance and carefully appraise what has worked well and what has not, I consider current fundraising activities, trends in performance and the current structure and support systems that support your fundraising activity.
Secondly, I examine how your employees and volunteers feel about your organization. Through a series of what I call “Listening Meetings” I meet with several groups to explore their thoughts and feelings about the place they work.
Finally, I create a comprehensive set of recommendations uniquely (and realistically) suited to your strengths and challenges.
If you’d like to learn more, give me a call or send me a message. Have you ever done an independent fundraising audit?