Starting From Scratch


On occasion, passionate people who are looking to advance their cause call me for help. Most of the time, they are looking to "raise funds fast". Knowing that fundraising is a process, is based on relationships, and depends on annual giving cycles by funders, I give them this simple checklist to get them started:

1. Create a volunteer board, committee, or advisory group of like-minded individuals who are equally committed to your mission. You don't want to do this alone.

2. Determine how everyone's relationships can open doors to prospective funders. Visit the offices of CNM Connect to research from the Foundation Center Directory and learn more. Start a prospect list and develop it. Create a mission statement and case for support that differentiates you from other community initiatives and nonprofits.

3. Create simple collateral that supports your mission statement and case for support. You don't need expensive materials. Good desk top publishing for print and electronic means will do the trick.

4. Develop a general template for proposal requests, keeping in mind that every one submitted will have to be personalized to be effective.

5. Continually prospect, cultivate and ask donors for support needed. Assign the "asks" by relationships.

6. Retain donors and attract donors by communicating the results of their contributions. Tell the story of the difference your program is making.

7. Repeat. Continue the process.

Is there more to fundraising than this? Sure. But for those starting from scratch, it's a good start.