Whether you are seeking to raise funds for your non-profit group, a worthy charity, political or religious organization, your local school or to provide community specific aid, this detailed course will provide you with everything you need to know about the basics of fundraising. Although Fundraising 101 is geared towards the novice, even those with past fundraising experience will find useful ideas and the latest information.
Fundraising is a fulfilling and worthwhile endeavor, it can also be overwhelming and confusing if you are not sure where to start or how to stay on track. With the magnitude of charities out there soliciting funds from givers it also becomes a difficult task to make your own group stand out from the others. Convincing potential contributors to rally to your cause requires the efforts of several dedicated individuals and substantial organization long before you ever ask that defining question--"Would you please help with your donation?"
Making full use of this course in its entirety is the first step in turning the dreaded response "I gave at the office," into the much desired "Sure, I can donate!"
Starting out on the right foot is essential in any business proposition. Although fundraising is usually defined as a non-profit undertaking, it is still ultimately a business.
It is the business of helping others with the use of funds donated by kind and generous individuals interested in furthering a cause they believe in.
Any type of fundraising activity takes organization and early planning to be successful. There are numerous other organizations, with causes just as worthy, that are vying for the same dollars you are, so, good planning and clear goals are necessary from the very start.
Non-Profit or Tax-Exempt Status
If you have not already taken this step, or if your organization does not already have this status, it is vital that you do so as soon as possible. Obtaining non-profit status will allow your organization to secure many valuable tax benefits.
You have several options in regard to obtaining this special status for fundraising purposes.
- You can go directly to the IRS and begin the procedure yourself.
- You can hire an attorney who specializes in obtaining non-profit status to accomplish this task for you, or
- You can peruse the many Internet sites that walk you through the process or take care of the paperwork for you.
If you decide to take on the task yourself, be sure to read the IRS FAQ on the subject, which has been provided in the Resources section of this lesson. Most organizations choose to hire an attorney for this task as it takes the difficulty and potential of delays caused by inaccurate or improper filing out of the equation. Others use companies such as Legal Zoom to guide them through the process with great results. The choice is yours; however, be sure to research all your options carefully before deciding.
Define Your Mission
So, you have your non-profit status (or it is in the works) and you're ready to get started with the meat of earning money for your cause. Well, before you pick up the phone and start asking for donations, you need to first complete some paperwork. This is an important component of building your organization into a legitimate and donation-worthy group.
Let's start this paperwork trail with the backbone of all businesses--The Mission Statement.
You may know the particulars of exactly what you are trying to accomplish, but can you clearly and definitively explain it to someone else? Can you succinctly sum up in a few sentences what your goals are with your fundraising campaign? If not, now is the time to sit down and create a written definition of what you are trying to do. Your grammar does not have to be perfect, you can always edit later on, or hire a professional to do so, the important thing is to just jot down the main ideas you are trying to convey. Once you have those elements perfected, you can then take those ingredients and create a more defined and refined case statement.
Your mission statement does not have to be very long, one or two short paragraphs should do the trick, it will later be used to create your case statement, which is the more involved document.
Having trouble getting started? Keep it simple--write three words that define your organization. Expand those three words into three active sentences which explain your fundraising vision. From your sentences try to develop a full paragraph that would briefly tell another person what your organization is about.
External Case Statement
Making Your Case Statement: A case statement is a clear and decisive document that explains your organization's initiative in writing. If you have written a clear mission statement it will be much easier to create this more exacting document. There are two types of case statement, Internal and External.
This is the document that you will ultimately be showing to potential donors. It will be a description of your organization that you may leave with others so that they can learn more. Internal Case Statement
This document is used in-house as a reference tool. It includes everything in your external case statement plus other information about your organization such as services it will provide, any special features it possesses, worthy achievements and future plans. Your organization's internal case statement will be the basis for all supporting documents that will spring forth from it, such as: telephone scripts, emails, letters, brochures, newsletters and press releases. You should spend considerable time perfecting this document and adding to it as your organization evolves. If you feel that writing is not your forte, hire a professional to use your mission statement to create one for you.
If you plan to take on the task of creating an internal and external case statement yourself there are several excellent Web sources listed in the resources section of this lesson that provide sample case statements. Use these samples to get ideas for your own organization, but be sure to not duplicate them exactly. You will want to set your group apart from others in order to build a unique identity within the fundraising world.
Setting Your Group Apart
It is assumed that you have given serious thought to why your particular fundraiser is needed prior to continuing forward with your goals. If groups who raise funds for the same cause as yours already exist, we hope that you have established that a competing group would be a welcome addition. The reason you decided that your fundraising efforts are truly needed and/or required must become your organizations defining character.
Today's savvy donors want answers. They want to know why they should give their hard earned dollars to you in addition to (or instead of) other groups. It will not further your cause to be vague about your goals or melt into the crowd. Write down those things that set your group apart, write down why your fundraising mission is clearly important and allow that to set the tone when communicating with potential donors. Are you raising funds for a local school? Then tell your neighborhood donors how this will uniquely benefit the community they live in. Are you organizing a food drive before Thanksgiving when three other groups are doing the same? Tell potential donors why your group is needed when others already exist; what is special about your fundraiser or organization? Be specific!
Building Your Team
Odds are that you already have at least a few people on board who are willing to help and take part in your endeavor. If you don't, you had better sit down and go over your address book and start making calls. Fundraising is not a venture for one person alone! Even smaller efforts need at least one extra set of hands. If you try to do it all on your own, you will burn out very quickly and defeat your purpose. That said, there are several things to keep in mind when building your fundraising dream team:
- Don't be afraid to ask family and friends to assist, hey, what are friends for?
- Don't hem people in, take what they can offer. You may have a relative or friend who cannot devote many hours to your cause, but they might be willing to create a flyer or brochure for you during their lunch break.
- Take out an ad in the local paper or post one in a grocery store, (or other high traffic area), calling for like-minded volunteers.
- Build your expanded team from your nucleus. If you have a small group together ask them to call upon their friends and families to help.
- For larger fundraising efforts it may be necessary to pay specialized individuals to assist. Be sure to narrow down those things that absolutely can't be accomplished by the volunteers already on your team.
- Keep the "work" atmosphere fun. High morale is key in keeping your unpaid helpers happy.
- Thank those who do agree to volunteer often and lavishly; let them know that their help is greatly appreciated.
- Celebrate milestones and accomplishments with a pizza party or some other small gesture of festivity, (perhaps even donated by a local business!).
Organizing Your Team
No one wants to devote several hours of their week standing around wondering what the heck is going on! Before you even begin planning your fundraising campaign, you must have a meeting with your group. Be sure to have your mission and case statement ready and provide copies for all involved. The first meeting should have a clear directive--who will be doing what. It is up to you to have a precise list put together before hand of what will be needed to accomplish your fundraising goals. Get input from your team on who is qualified to do certain jobs. If several people are qualified you may be able to split the work between them or create a "mini-team" of two or three. Don't be discouraged if you end up with jobs on your list that no one seems qualified for; these may be the things you will need to hire that expert for, or get out there and rustle up another volunteer with that specific skill set.
Some other points to help keep your team organized:
- Be forthcoming; do not "selectively" provide information to your team.
- Keep everyone involved.
- Welcome ideas and suggestions.
- Audio record meetings, or, at the very least, assign one person to act as "secretary" and write down decisions made during meetings.
- Set up a regular meeting schedule to ensure that everyone stays current on progress and goals.
- Train new incoming volunteers well. Take the time to get them up-to-date on what has transpired so far and introduce them to the rest of the team.
- Be sure to handle personality conflicts between team members promptly and with care to avoid hurt feelings, or worse, the loss of a helpful volunteer!
- Gently let your volunteers know if they are off track or confused about their particular job.
- A sense of humor goes a long way; don't be too stringent with your "rules."
Facilities, Equipment and Technology
First and foremost a gathering place is of utmost importance. For small groups or focused, infrequent campaigns, your home or a volunteers home will serve the purpose, or, alternatively, the place of "business" for whom you're are raising funds if a school, church, synagogue or other such organization. Medium sized groups can inquire at local places of worship (the denomination is not important) to find out if they rent basement space or rooms to non-profits. Other options are private/political halls such as a local VFW, ethnic club or Rotary club who owns or rents space and are willing to allow you paid or free access to their headquarters. If your group is larger and your efforts more involved, it might be worth the investment to rent an office space to serve as headquarters. Be sure to ask landlord's if they offer rent discounts for non-profits!
Once you have a meeting place designated and secured, be sure to provide your volunteers with provisions that they will need to accomplish their tasks. The most obvious and simple are notepads and pens, refreshments, and use of bathroom facilities. However, depending on how involved the fundraising campaign or group is you may also want to consider some of the following:
- Access to telephones with multiple lines
- Computers with Internet access and printers
- Copy and fax machines
- Basic office supplies, such as: file folders, paper clips, pens, paper, staplers, printer ink, postage, envelopes and the like
- Software such as Microsoft Office, MS Publisher or Adobe Acrobat
Make a list of the equipment and technology items you think you will need. This list may become more extensive as your development plan (Lesson Two) becomes more defined. As a basic reference use the list above. Browse your local Office Supply store and Internet supply stores to get the best prices on larger items.
Are you involved in raising funds, or are you thinking about getting involved in this fulfilling and worthwhile undertaking?
Are you overwhelmed and confused when it comes to where to start or how to stay on track?
Are you tired of hearing, "I gave at the office," instead of, "Sure, I can donate"?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, then you know that fundraising takes a lot more than the courage to just ask, "Will you please help with your donation?"
Whether you are seeking to raise funds for:
this detailed course will provide everything you need to know about the basics of fundraising, and it will give you the confidence to:
- Start an effective campaign correctly
- Write winning grant proposals
- Use the media, direct mail, and phones
- Master available technology (web site, email, software, and database)
- Organize events and deliver lectures
- Cultivate donors (prospecting, researching, meeting, thanking)
- Sell without selling
There is no reason for fundraising to confuse, overwhelm, or frustrate you. Best of all, because enrollment is open 24/7, there’s no reason to put off starting. Register today.
This online course presents the basics of fundraising start-up in a clear and easy to follow format. Any type of fundraising activity takes organization and early planning to be successful. There are numerous other organizations, whose causes are just as worthy, who are vying for the same dollars you are, so, good planning and clear goals incorporated from the very start becomes vital and necessary. Fundraising, like any business, is an ongoing process that evolves over time and requires hard work, persistence and dedication to yield results.
Whether you are seeking to raise funds for your non-profit group, a worthy charity, political or religious organization, your local school or to provide community specific aid, this detailed course will provide you with everything you need to know about the basics of fundraising. Convincing potential contributors to rally to your cause requires the efforts of several dedicated individuals and substantial organization long before you ever ask that defining question--"Would you please help with your donation?"
Are you looking for a way to make more than a monetary contribution to a worthwhile group or organization?
Want to give some time and hands-on effort toward raising funds for a non-profit group, charity, political or religious organization, or local school?
Have you gotten up the courage to ask someone, "Will you please help with your donation?" and heard, "I gave at the office." Do you wonder how others hear, "Sure, I can donate"?
Do you wonder how to make your group or organization "stand out from the pack" in the increasingly fierce competition for donors’ limited dollars?
Do you know what essential skills, equipment, and technology are needed for successful fundraising?
Do you perhaps need to conquer the fear that all this might be beyond you?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, then Fundraising 101 is perfect for you. Although geared towards the novice, the course provides those with some fundraising experience a host of useful ideas and the latest information. To enroll, the only pre-requisite is a high school reading level in English.
After completing Fundraising 101, you will be able to:
Define your fundraising mission
Build and organize an effective fundraising team
Set realistic goals
Evaluate assets and strategize
Make your organization stand apart from the pack and appear truly worthy of support
Write winning grant proposals
Utilize to best advantage the media and direct mail
Work the phones
Utilize available technology – web site, email, software applications, and build your own donor database
Make the most of giveaways
Sell without selling
Organize special events
Prospect effectively – identifying, researching, verifying, and meeting potential donors
Handle planned gifts
The course consists of seven self-paced, self-contained lessons:
Lesson 1: Fundraising Start-Up Essentials
Lesson 2: Developing Your Fundraising Plan
Lesson 3: Marketing Strategies for Fundraisers
Lesson 4: Using the Internet and Technology
Lesson 5: Fundraising Events
Lesson 6: Attracting and Winning Major Donors
Lesson 7: Strategies to Keep the Givers Giving
Each lesson accumulates points as you complete assignments, quizzes, and class participation in forums (discussions). A percentage grade will be given based on your point accumulation. Lessons must be completed sequentially. You cannot access Lessons 2 and 3 until you've first finished your coursework for Lesson 1.
If you encounter questions or areas that leave you confused, you can contact your instructor directly at any time by using the Class Email Forum under the Communications tab in the main classroom area. Within three or four days, her response will show up in your own email in-box.
Learning the fundamentals of fundraising can reward you in many ways…
You'll learn organizational skills applicable in many areas and endeavors
You'll increase self-confidence
You'll develop an ability to influence people to accomplish good
You'll do something good for your community
And you might even find a new career!
Best of all, you control the learning. You can register today and get started learning techniques that will ensure fundraising success. Sign up now!