Fundraising For Dummies, 4th Edition
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Whether you wind up helping as a volunteer, joining a staff, or serving on a board, you connect with a nonprofit organization because, first and foremost, you believe in the work it’s doing.

At some point, you realize that the fundraiser’s role is right at the heart of the organization. Without funding, the organization wouldn’t be able to do any of the good work that got you hooked in the first place.

Here, you'll discover a fundraiser’s important tasks, the folks who make up a fundraising department, and tips for continued success.

Important tasks for a fundraiser

Getting started in fundraising is a magnanimous undertaking, whether you’re an employee or contractor for a nonprofit. You’re both excited and overwhelmed. After all, every new program in the planning stages, additional facility needs, and the annual fund drive are now on your to-do list.

A nonprofit’s board of directors, executive director, administrative and program staff, and internal and external stakeholders are all looking at you to bring in the financial resources needed to fulfill the strategic plan goals and the fundraising plan goals.

Here are tasks and skills that are often expected of a successful fundraiser or development director:

  • Help organizations meet short- and long-term financial goals
  • Promote awareness of the organization’s mission and work
  • Find individuals, corporations, and foundations interested in donating money to your causes
  • Communicate the organization’s mission to external stakeholders
  • Cultivate a network of dedicated donors and volunteers
  • Ensure major donors are satisfied and kept in the loop
  • Identify new fundraising opportunities
  • Engage in recruiting volunteers
  • Write grant applications
  • Deliver presentations
  • Demonstrate strong interpersonal communication skills

Prove that you’re worth your weight in gold when your employer or client calls you in for frequent progress reports to them and the board of directors.

Remember, the organization has made a significant investment in your position, and the upper hierarchy wants to be kept in the communications loop on what you’re doing to earn your compensation.

Folks to know in a fundraising department

Fundraisers who take on the role of development directors will have department-level fundraising goals that are assigned to the following potential development office staff positions:

  • Foundation and corporate relations vice president: This position is donor-centered and results-driven with a relentless focus on building and deepening relationships that generate financial resources to support the mission of the organization.
  • Director of donor stewardship: This position focuses on individual giving. Responsibilities include designing, implementing, and directing an integrated and comprehensive stewardship program that promotes engagement and connection with donors at all levels.
  • Board of directors liaison: This position serves as the primary point of contact for all board members, executive committee members, and board-related matters, including socializing one-on-one with members to make the ask for additional funding commitments.
  • Grant writer: This position is responsible for researching, writing, and coordinating the grant application process, managing proposals, timely reporting, and maintaining grants activity within the organization’s database.
  • Volunteers: These individuals give their time and talent to helping the organization launch successful events, from stuffing invitations into hundreds of fancy envelopes to organizing the layout of the event facility to greeting guests, handing out name tags, and taking them to their assigned tables.

Five tips for fundraising success

Before you decide that your career goal is to be a fundraiser, it’s important to understand how economic trends can look like red flags when they’re really not revenue stoppers at all.

Following, are several tips that can help you land on your feet in every situation, regardless of what’s happening in the world:

  • Keep in mind that fundraising is continuous regardless of economic conditions. Your role is to always look ahead and plan for revenue ups and downs. Create a contingency plan for the continuation of services. Prepare your board and staff for organizational survival. Find partner organizations and new revenue sources. Whittle down your mission, if needed, and whatever you do, keep nurturing the donor-organization relationship.
  • Embrace fundraising with a passion. Fundraising folks have an old saying: “People don’t give to causes. People give to people with causes.” This saying means you’re one of the most important parts of the fundraising process. Your inspiration, your perspiration, your passion.
  • Let your attitude determine your success. The happiest and most successful fundraisers love what they do. They believe in their causes, and an air of invincibility surrounds them. They may not be the biggest moneymakers on the block right now, but something inside them recognizes that one day they may be. They have the power of belief, pride in their profession, and the inner conviction that what they do makes a difference.
  • Organize the board members and volunteers as your cheerleaders. Your board can provide tremendous support for your fundraising efforts and set the course for the big picture of your organization. Equally important to your organization’s effectiveness are your volunteers.
  • Drafting a perfect fundraising plan. To be a successful fundraiser, you need to be able to demonstrate the following to your donors:
    • What you have
    • What you need
    • How you plan to get it
    • How you plan to account for it after you receive it

Not only will a good plan help you attract support from stakeholders inside and outside your organization, but it will provide a chart for you to steer by as you navigate through uncertain economic times.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

John Mutz is a fundraising expert and speaker who has an extensive array of fundraising credits, including former chairman of the United Way Campaign of Central Indiana and former president of one of the nation's largest private foundations. Katherine Murray is a writer and small-business owner who consults with small and struggling nonprofits. She is the author of more than 40 books, including Green Home Computing For Dummies.

This article can be found in the category: