If you sit on the board of a not-or-profit that has trouble raising money, perhaps it’s because your group has not done a good job of defining what it does and why it deserves support. Or perhaps it’s because there are too many other groups doing the same thing. Or perhaps it’s because you are asking the wrong people. There are a number of reasons seemingly worthwhile causes fail to garner the support they need. Here is a test every board or support organization should take to help better define what they do, and how they fit into the local community.
Know yourself and your community!
Why would anyone want to contribute to your organization? Try to see yourself as others see you. Spend some time with board members and key volunteers answering these questions. The answers will help you better define your mission as well as understand who you are and why you deserve support. They will also help you target your most likely donors – persons and organizations that care about what you do and its value to the community.
1) What do you do? Who benefits? If you cease to exist, why would you be missed? Who would miss you? (The answer to these questions will lead you to the right prospective donors.)
2) Who else does what you do? How are they the same? How are they different? In your community, are there potential collaborators for joint projects? Joint grants?
3) What's missing? What do you need? What is your vision?
In fulfillment of your mission, what should you be doing but can not due to lack of resources? How would adding this to your list of services benefit those you serve? The community? Is anyone else providing this service?
4) Complete this sentence:
If we had an extra $__________ per year, we could ________________________!
(Note: Complete this sentence with a mission-related goal, e.g., feed more children, or expand literacy services.)
5) Where do you get most of your money now?
What fund raising activities do you do regularly? Can this/these activities be improved? Can the amount raised be increased? What other fundraising activities have you tried? Successful? Why or why not? Where do you think you might find "untapped" resources?
6) What are your volunteer resources?
Who is on your board? Who uses your facility? Who are your willing workers? Who knows both your organization and your community? Who is willing to speak on your behalf?
7) What are your fund raising goals?
To increase the annual budget? To fund specific projects? To purchase capital equipment? To offset funding reductions and maintain current level of service? To expand your mission?
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Kathryn Lima, founder of Faro Enterprises, is a consultant with over 30 years experience in marketing, public relations, and fundraising. Send your questions about fundraising to her via email to email@example.com.