28/01/2010 - 00:00

Keys to successful fundraising

28/01/2010 - 00:00

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FUNDRAISING can be a confronting and challenging prospect for any chief executive of a not-for-profit organisation.

FUNDRAISING can be a confronting and challenging prospect for any chief executive of a not-for-profit organisation.

Especially in the wake of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, when corporations and people alike want more bang for their buck in the not-for-profit sector.

DVA Navion chief executive Chris Downes said poor decisions regarding fundraising initiatives could jeopardise an organisation’s programs, or possibly the future of that organisation.

As the head of an international fundraising consultancy, Mr Downes understands that fundraising is a frightening notion for those running a charity.

Mr Downes said it was important for decision-makers not to make quick decisions, adding that successful fundraising relies on solid planning and is generally long-term in nature.

He said organisations that have retained their donors during the global financial crisis were most likely those that invested in long-term relationships.

Fundraising Institute of Australia state president Brian Holmes agreed, saying while Western Australians have always been extremely generous, people are more prone to be loyal to NFPs they know and trust.

Mr Holmes said society was saturated by the likes of medical research organisations, universities and community groups seeking financial assistance, which put further pressure on fundraising in the NFP sector.

He said based on that, the best type of fundraising was relationship fundraising.

“Where a not-for-profit has actually actively pursued relationships with their donors or their potential donors, and has treated them as individuals, has taken care to thank them, and acknowledged their generosity, donors tend to become loyal to that charity,” he told WA Business News.

“When you get to tough times of course, donors tend to break away from the new charities and stay with the ones they have been with for some time.

“The organisations that have continued to do well in their fundraising have really spent their time over the years building relationships up.”

Mr Holmes said once that relationship exists, communicating with those donors was imperative even if it was frequent updates about what the NFP was doing, the progress of initiatives and of any upcoming events.

“So the information you provide has to be interesting to capture somebody’s imagination before they even consider whether they want to get involved and support you or whether they will continue to support you,” he said.

Mr Holmes said NFPs wishing to embark on a fundraising campaign should conduct market research first and speak to existing donors about what it was they want them to do, and then test the support for the case to a small market segment to see if the appeal would be viable.

Our Community, a global social enterprise that provides advice, tools and training for Australia’s 700,000 community groups and schools, believes the most important key to sustainability is the need to diversify an organisation’s funding base.

The organisation believes while traditional sources such as grants, sponsorship and charging membership are successful fundraising initiatives, other ideas include tapping Rotary clubs as a source for a “quick cash injection”, raising money through wills and bequests, and also by selling goods and services.

 

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