Now that you have the basic start-up essentials in place, it is time to focus on your actual plan for raising funds. In this article, we will look at how to set realistic goals, how to properly evaluate your current assets, learn how to organize your plan and discover methods of developing practical strategies.
Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals
The secret to success in this aspect of fundraising is to find a comfortable balance between what you hope to raise and what is possible to raise. In other words, don't set your goals too high or too low. If you set them too high, you will be disappointed in the final outcome and this will lead to discouragement for all involved. If you set them too low, you and your team will not feel challenged and will know that you could have done better, tried harder and pushed further.
There are several things to consider when setting goals for your organization; the most important considerations and additions to your document should include:
- How much money is needed, to the nearest dollar you can manage, to run the programs and services you wish to provide?
- How much money is needed to fund operations and pay the overhead costs of running your organization, or to finance a specific fundraising event?
- Do you have an expected source of donations that is larger than all others? Will that particular source diminish over time, or will it increase?
- Do you have any ideas for sources of donations that you can count on to generate income on a regular basis?
- Which planned sources of donations seem to have the potential to expand and bring more income in the future?
There are multiple sources of funding for your organization. You should discuss your options with your team to decide which would work best for your particular group. Below are some of the most used and proven methods of raising dollars for fundraising:
- Donations solicited by mail, telephone, or email from individuals
- Donations solicited from corporations or foundations
- Funds acquired through grants
- Funds raised via special events and/or product sales
- Funds raised via "in-kind" gifts
- You! The fearless leader of the organization, and any partners
- Paid specialists
- Committed donors
- Equipment purchased or donated, to date
- Copyrights and trademarks
- Potential or won grants
- Your reputation, and that of your volunteers
- Your organization's specific appeal to donors and volunteers
Organizing Your Plan
1. A description of the organization:
Essentially this is your mission statement, as it will describe why your organization was created, and what the ultimate goals of fundraising are.
2. Information about the management of the organization:
This portion of the plan outlines who is running the organization, its key personnel, and any and all volunteers and their capacity.
3. Target market information:
Here you want to clearly define any competition for funds; list all those served by your organization and the area or specific place, if any, that it serves.
4. Current financial situation:
This is where the list of assets you made earlier will come in handy. You will need to evaluate and create an astute description of the value of your organization at this point. This will later be used to create a future plan for fundraising success.
Alice's Kitchen, (a nonprofit group that feeds the homeless), is planning to integrate into its current program a yearly drive to feed the hungry at Thanksgiving. Thus, the strategic plan for this program would look something like this:
: To provide healthy meals to those individuals in and around our service area who would otherwise go without during this difficult time of year; to get the word out about this program to those in need, and recruit extra volunteers to handle the task efficiently.
1) Raising the extra funds needed to cover overhead costs.
2) Circulating word of the new program to the area.
3) Recruiting extra "holiday" volunteers.
Special events are considered a great boon to nonprofits. A well-planned event or product fundraiser can bring in just the amount you need to meet a yearly goal or fund a pet program. In general, donors enjoy these types of fundraisers. (How many people do you know who can pass up a Girl Scout Cookie Drive. Think Thin Mints!) These types of fundraisers are also great fun for your volunteers and all others involved in your organization.
- 5k, 10k, or 20k races
- Summer Fairs
- Fall Festivals
- Spring Fairs
- Special Dinners
- Craft Fairs
- Special Raffles
Raising Money With Product Fundraising
Here are a few product item possibilities and ideas to get you started:
- Greeting cards
- Silicone bracelets
- Chocolate bars
- Coffee/tea mugs
- Key chains
- Keep your branding in mind when ordering or creating a product to sell.
- Get a sample before ordering a large amount.
- Get free shipping from the product provider.
- Make sure you are getting at least 50 percent of the profits from the sales.
- Don't sell junk; make sure your product is well made.
- Keep sale prices reasonable, but above cost.
- Do not allow children to sell anywhere (except known safe places: school, family events, etc.) without an adult accompanying them.
Co-Branded Product Fundraising
Small groups need not shy away from event or product fundraising; in fact, they serve as an excellent way to reach yearly donation goals or provide a means of funding specific programs. There are great creative ways to raise funds with low or no overhead costs for smaller organizations. Think about having a once-a-year product fundraiser, rather than offering items for sale all year round.