In Episode #2: Back to Basics, together, we go over the 6 basic yet essential questions of fundraising that are developed by Linda Lysakowski – my mentor in fundraising. I go through each of these questions and provide straightforward answers for each of them.
Knowing how and why donors like to give, knowing the costs and the return on investment, and knowing that you have a limited number of resources available, both human and financial resources, should help you decide how much time and effort to spend on each of these. Don’t rely on one type of fundraising to “do it all.”
Hallo – This is Somaye Dehban, a networked Dutchified Iranian who is on a mission to bring about financial stability for every community based organization and initiative.
I am the creator and host of Your Funding Network, a podcast for anyone who is devoted to their community and want to bring about lasting change at the local and global level.
Join me every 3rd Tuesday of the month to hear about the role of community based organizations in achieving sustainable development goals, and how to diversify funding resources of your local initiative and increase your self-financing for a sustainable and durable change.
Now let’s get together for this episode of Your Funding Network.
Welcome to the second episode of Your Funding Network. Thank you for showing up and tunning in.
How have you been? How did you like the previous episode? I received an overwhelming number of comments all praising my mother’s work as a community fundraiser. It inspired me so much that I decided to re-name my upcoming book on community-based fundraising after my mother! This book will come out in the last quarter of next year and its working title is The Legends of My Mother’s Community Based Fundraising. I am writing this book with my mentor Linda Lysakowski. Linda has been my mentor in fundraising for the last decade and I am honored to work on this book with her.
In this episode, together, we go over the 6 basic yet essential questions of fundraising that are developed by Linda. I go through each of these questions and provide straightforward answers for each of them – in upcoming episodes we delve much deeper in each of these questions.
According to Linda Lysakowski, the author of Fundraising for Genius and many other books in the field of fundraising, there are six fundamental issues or better to say questions to consider in every fundraising effort
The first question is:
What is fundraising and why is it important for community based organizations?
There are many words used to describe the process of obtaining charitable contributions—to just name a few, we have philanthropy, development, advancement, fundraising, fund development, and more.
Although by some these terms are used as synonyms and considered interchangeable, these terms are quite different from each other.
It is very important to know the distinction between these terms and have a clear understanding of the process of fundraising and why it is important to nonprofit organizations. Under this question we also need to address the diversity of the nonprofit sector and who is involved in the process of fundraising and why.
The second question is:
Whose responsibility is fundraising?
So who is responsible for fundraising in your nonprofit organization? Many boards and executive directors breathe a collective sigh of relief once they hire a development staff person.
“Whew, we’re so glad we don’t have to worry about all that fundraising stuff anymore.”
Wrong! Once your organization sees philanthropy as a priority and decides to establish a development office, the board and leadership of your organization will be more involved in fundraising than ever before. Fundraising is a team effort. In fact, when you hold any position in a nonprofit organization, from executive director to receptionist, security guard, maintenance staff, or clerical support, you need to know that to be successful, the organization must take the approach that “fundraising is everybody’s business.” Fundraising should not be viewed as a distraction from providing services but as the foundation that allows your organization to provide needed programs to the community.
The third question is:
Where do we find the money?
So now that you know who raises money and why, the next question is where do you find the money? Many people entering the fundraising arena for the first time think that the solution is grant writing.
There is indeed a lot of money available for nonprofits and even for-profit companies from government agencies, and a significant amount of money is given to nonprofits by private foundations.
However, looking at the percentage of funding chart, you can see that only a small portion of the funding received by nonprofits comes from foundations.
The amount of money given by businesses to fund nonprofit programs is even less than that of foundations.
I’m not saying don’t look for grants or seek donations from businesses and corporations. What I am saying is that you need a well-balanced approach to fundraising. And that your funding streams must be diverse in order to prevent a major tragedy when one funding source dries up.
The fourth question is:
What do we need in place before we can effectively raise funds?
Now that you know why you need to raise money, who raises money, and who to raise money from, you probably think you’re ready to go. Not quite yet!
There are some things you need to have in place before you are ready to start asking for donations. Most of these fall under what Linda terms “infrastructure.” Without these basic fundamental things in place, you may be somewhat successful for a while, but you won’t reach your true potential. And, in many cases, your development program could crash and burn. It’s like building a house without laying the foundation first. So, be patient.
The fifth question is:
What methods are used in fundraising?
Okay, now we are ready to actually raise the money. Bet you thought I would say we still have more to do, didn’t you? In the following episodes, I talk about the various methods of fundraising and which of these are the most effective. As mentioned previously, it is important to have a diverse number of tools in your toolbox. So knowing how and why donors like to give, knowing the costs and the return on investment of each of these types of funding, and knowing that you have a limited number of resources available, both human and financial resources, should help you decide how much time and effort to spend on each of these. But do try all of them. Don’t rely on one type of fundraising, “do it all.”
The last question is:
Taking it to the next level?
Once you have a well-established development program, the next step is to make sure you evaluate results on a regular basis and strive to continually improve results. In the following episodes, I will describe some helpful evaluation tools and how to take your development program to the next level.
Continuous improvement starts with evaluating your development program on an ongoing basis and developing ways to improve the areas that need improvement. Next, think about new initiatives that might improve your development program. And, finally, always be thinking about ways to move your donors up the donor pyramid toward the ultimate gift.
What was the take away of this episode for you?
Did you hear about something that intrigued you and encouraged you to apply it at your own community based organization?
I hope you are motivated to bring about a sustainable and durable change for your community.
Want to hear more?
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Until the next get together – bedrood.