How to Draft a Fundraising Strategy for Your Nonprofit
Implementing a nonprofit fundraising strategy is a lot easier when you have a guide to follow. In the first stage, you brainstorm and then refine your list of ideas, creating a fundraising strategy that defines reasonable goals. In the second stage, you identify the specific activities to address those goals, set a schedule, decide who will do the work, and make sure that you have the tools you need to succeed.
Create a list of fundraising prospects
If your organization is brand-new, brainstorm with your founding board members the names of people and organizations they know that may support your cause. If your organization has been around for a while, begin by listing its previous contributors.
Annotate your list by identifying which supporters are likely to support it again. Then stretch your thinking to consider new prospects — people who know you or who support other causes that are related to yours.
After you begin this effort of generating names and ideas, you’ll begin to notice prospects all around you. A good sleuth is ever vigilant, collecting names from newspaper stories, athletic event programs, public television credits, donor display walls in buildings, and related organizations’ websites. You want to make sleuthing a regular habit!
Refine your nonprofit prospect list
Professional fundraisers will tell you that the three keys to raising money are research, research, and research. After you identify specific foundations, corporations, and government agencies on your list, you want to check on their current guidelines and giving priorities.
Approximately 13,000 foundations have websites that can help you with that task; you can find many more of them by subscribing to The Foundation Center’s online directory. You also can search for federal government agencies and programs on the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and at Grants.gov.
As you conduct your search, you’re likely to uncover other prospects that you didn’t think of when brainstorming, and you also may eliminate many that you discover are inappropriate.
Go back through your list of individual donor prospects with board members, volunteers, and trusted associates. Note who knows whom. Try to discover as much as you can about them from media sources, the Internet, and people who know them.
Based on their apparent interest in your organization’s cause, whether someone you know can contact them personally, and their records for giving to other causes, mark which of your prospects seem to be highly likely, somewhat likely, and not very likely to support your efforts.
Estimate what each donor will contribute
Identifying names of possible donors is just the beginning of the puzzle. You also need to estimate the amounts your donor prospects may give. You may find clues by tracking down the approximate amounts of their contributions to other organizations.
When researching your foundation prospects, if any give grants of $10,000 or more and if you subscribe, you can look them up in the Grants section of the Foundation Directory Online and see what the foundations have given to similar projects. You can find grant lists for foundations that award smaller amounts by downloading their IRS Form 990 tax reports from the Foundation Center or GuideStar.
If your organization is new, estimating how much you’ll receive in donations is challenging, and it’s recommend that you be conservative. Look at the prospect list and set goals for the contributions you intend to secure Setting these donation numbers gets easier in subsequent years. However, donors’ interests and circumstances change, so never assume consistency.