April is coming. Have you inked in your fundraising strategy yet?

27 Mar

The new financial year is round the corner. Have you inked in your fundraising strategy yet?

No matter what the answer to that is: Keep calm. And now, kill the dragon.

Those of you who’ve spent the past month poring over numbers on an Excel sheet, just ask yourself: Is it doable? Depending on the answer to that, pore on.

Those of you who’ve not yet started on your fundraising plan for the coming year, you don’t have to clutch your hairbrush and do a rendition of All by myself. This post is for you.

Your fundraising strategy needs to answer five questions. All of which can fit on one side of a clean tissue. Once you’ve got these fundamentals answered, the rest is about following through.

Let’s go over each of these fundamentals.

  1. Where do you want to go?

This is your concrete goal in fundraising. Not your organisational goal or programmatic goal, though you will have to think about that to get a fix on this one. Write down clearly what’s the direction you want fundraising to take this year.

Do you want to increase the percentage of funds you raise locally by 5%? Or get your first Rs 1 lakh from individual donors? In other words, your target could be a percentage-based target for planned diversification of income. Or it could be an exploration of a new source.

If you’re able to, have a go at where you want it to go over the next three years, and work backward to set this year’s goal.

  1. What do you need the money for?

People will give to people, to state a fundraising obvious. And to get your work to be fundraising-friendly, you need to make it about people. Or cats. Or dogs. You get the drift.

Don’t make it about training workshops, electricity bills and capacity building. There’s a way to articulate all of that in a manner that is about people. If you don’t know how to articulate it that way, get help. Craft this ask, test it, sharpen it. Test again.

A word of advice: Resist the temptation to do advocacy and fundraising at the same time. I could say more about this – but another time. Just don’t.

  1. How do you plan to get there?

Choose three or four methods. If you’re doing this for the first time, fewer. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure there’s a good spread of types of donors: large number of people giving you small amounts, and a few people giving you larger amounts (what’s called Pareto’s principle).

Who is your target audience? The general public? Wrong answer. The 1,000 people who have come to your events in the past two years? Better. The 250 working women who have clicked on your email newsletter? Even better. When you don’t have the budgets, draw the circle as close as you can.

  1. How much of it is like bungee jumping?

Does it feel like you’re standing on the edge of cliff, ready to leap into the wide unknown? It doesn’t have to be that way. Look at the two or three methods you’ve chosen in the light of the resources you have. How much of your time will each take? Are all of them new to you? If so, chances are you’re biting off more than you can chew.

Ideally, you want at least one or two methods to be trusted and tried ones that will take minimal effort to keep going. Those are the bungee cord. You can count on these, and even strengthen these, while testing out the ones that are absolutely new.

  1. What will it cost?

What do you need to get the two or three methods moving? Have you thought about getting them sponsored? Fifteen years ago, I worked with a whole lot of organisations who got their first annual report sponsored, often by the bank where they had their account. So, before you decide that you don’t have a fundraising budget, try and get some sponsorship.

You still have four days in March. Get started on your annual fundraising plan today. And get April off to a kinder start.

If you’d like to chat about how to refine your fundraising strategy, write in to us.

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