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Cheat Sheet

Fundraising For Dummies

From Fundraising For Dummies, 3rd Edition by John Mutz, Katherine Murray

No two fundraising campaigns are the same, but they all share the same goal: to raise money that nonprofit organizations can use to fund programs and help others. When you start a fundraising campaign, you need to make sure you have all the right pieces in place; account for the current economic climate; and create a plan that includes strategies for both short- and long-term fundraising

Creating a Successful Fundraising Strategy

Fundraising is a never-ending task for most nonprofit organizations. Although you may raise money with various campaigns for different programs within your agency, your overarching fundraising strategy requires you to

  • Write your mission statement — make it clear and memorable.

  • Develop a case statement that reflects who you are and what you do.

  • Develop a fundraising plan.

  • Choose dynamic leaders for your fundraising campaigns.

  • Involve your board in various aspects of your fundraising strategy.

  • Continually build, slice, and dice your donor list.

  • Build an online audience with social media.

  • Use all communication avenues — in person, by phone, through social media, the Web, e-mail, newsletters, and print — to connect with your donors.

  • Assess your effectiveness in all campaigns and do more of what works — and less of what doesn’t.

How to Write a Great Case Statement

The backbone of your fundraising campaign is a strong case statement. A case statement outlines what need your agency addresses, how you address it, what makes your organization unique, and how others can help, whether through time or money.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you write your first draft:

  • Make it clear. Be concise and focused in your mission statement, goals, objectives, and program information.

  • Make it urgent. Give your reader a reason to care about your cause today.

  • Make it complete. Address the five Ws — who, what, when, where, and why — and include them in your case statement.

  • Make it interesting. Tell stories. Both success stories and heart-tugging stories stir the emotions of your readers.

  • Paint images in your readers’ minds. Visual words and action words activate your readers’ imaginations and help them remember your mission.

  • Don’t overdo it. Tugging on heartstrings requires an even hand. Resist gushing.

  • Do your homework. Make sure your facts — financials, program design, staff info, and plans — are accurate and well researched.

  • Include a call to action. Give your readers a clear way to help.

  • Reread, revisit, and revise. Write your best draft, take two aspirin, and ask for reviews — from past donors, volunteers, staff, and your board. Figuring out what others think of the case statement helps you communicate more clearly and compellingly, which, in turn, helps your case statement hit its mark.

Monitoring Your Nonprofit's Cash Flow in a Changing Economy

As if a fundraiser’s job weren’t hard enough, sometimes the economy takes a tumble, causing contributions to your organization to slow down. You may need to revamp your fundraising message to make it clear that demands on your program are up, but donations are down. It’s also a good idea to take a look at your budget to see what you can live without until funding picks up again.

Use the following tips to help you get started:

  • Know what your organization needs, daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.

  • Make contingency plans — know when changes in funding will affect programming or staffing.

  • Increase your efforts to add to your annual fund.

  • Be as realistic as possible — and be candid with your board, staff, and constituents.

  • Use the downturn in giving as a prompt for your givers.

  • Maintain an attitude of “we’re all in this together.”

  • Cut costs where you can — by reducing print pieces and increasing e-mail contact, for example.

  • Use your resources — past board chairpersons, engaged donors, fundraising professionals — to help you navigate through challenging times.

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