Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back to Basics: Raising the Money You Need to Do Your Good Work

These are tough times to be fundraising. The economic downturn has affected just about everybody, whether through layoffs or reduction in income or simply a sense of extreme worry and caution about the future. Nonetheless: in order to do your good work, to fulfill your mission, to serve your clients and your community, you're going to have to raise money - and now is the season to be asking. Here are some important facts to keep in mind as you work on your campaign:
  • $308 billion in charitable donations were made in the U.S. in 2008, despite the global economic crisis. Though their ability to give may be more limited, Americans will continue to give.
  • 70% of all Americans contribute annually to nonprofit organizations they care about. This means that 7 out of 10 people you know feel it is important to support charitable causes.
  • 82% of all charitable gifts come from individual donors. Grants from foundations provide 12%, and corporations give a paltry 5%. Fundraising events are labor-intensive projects that cost on average $1.30 for every $1 raised. So: in order to use your staff and board time strategically, be sure to focus on asking individuals.
And it's good to remember that there are just three basic things that motivate giving:
  1. Somebody asked. It's as simple as that. Religious institutions always top the list of funds received - because they ask, every week.
  2. The donor has a relationship with the asker. People give money to people - people whom they know and respect.
  3. The donor wants to be part of the work. Donating money is a way to participate actively and make a difference in the world. People love to give away money to causes they care about - especially when you can demonstrate real impact. And giving connects them to a community with shared values.
Remember that fundraising is an exchange. Your donors give one thing of value - their money, in exchange for another thing of value - the good work of your organization. Your job is to educate your donors about the impact of your programs and services, learn how they want to be involved, provide donors with meaningful opportunities to participate, build lasting relationships with them, connect them with community, and thank them for their support.

Above all, return to your mission. Ask yourself what drew you to the work, what makes you feel passionate about your organization, why it's important, how it has changed people's lives. This is what you want to communicate to your donors. Reach out with integrity with your fundraising, knowing that giving to righteous causes makes people feel good