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Ten essentials for effective fundraising

1. Inspirational and powerful vision

so that donors know the positive future their support will achieve.

2. Clear strategy over long and medium term

The charity’s work is based on a plan to get from where they are now to where they need to be – donors see how their support enables the transformation beneficiaries need.

3. Annual business plans with costed projects

The need for funds now is matched to activity happening now that links into the longer term strategy – ie how a gift today brings a better future closer. The plans give something really clear to report on each year – ie: this is what the charity said it would do, and this is what it achieved (the progress it has made over the year, thanks to donors’ support.)

Costed projects are important, so fundraising can tell donors how much their gift will help, and they are essential for grant funding.

4. Measure Performance

Fundraisers need to show donors how their gifts are being spent in best way possible to achieve the objectives of the charity (which have matched donors objectives through the vision) – both overall organisational objectives and specific project objectives for any particular piece of work. Measuring performance shows a charity has thought about what will work best to achieve something and that is why increased funding is needed.

5. Impact reporting, both quantitative and qualitative

To tell past donors and encourage future donations by showing what the work achieves – the people/animals/buildings/environment the charity helps, the difference donations have made, to one and to many.

6. Detailed financial reporting

Funders in particular, and donors, look at the costs incurred (such as governance and fundraising) in relation to expenditure on meeting charitable objectives. Detailed reporting is necessary to unpick exactly what things really cost and what donations will achieve and can help justify investment to achieve bold objectives.

Important for fundraising to have clarity on restricted vs unrestricted income and for all departments to have detailed breakdown of their expenditure – are resources being allocated as efficiently as possible?

7. Efficient internal processes

Supporters and funders are keen to know their money is being used with maximum efficiency. Any indication of a charity spending money inappropriately can hinder fundraising growth (and also means it is not maximising the resources it has and increasing the time it will take to reach its objectives.) Effective project management and mindfulness of costs is not about positive PR, it’s about being as efficient as possible in order to achieve a vision of the future as soon as possible. Prompt processing of inbound requests shows a charity focusses on external audiences not its organisational needs.

8. Targeted and planned marketing

Communications always work best when the audience is identified and the communication is focussed on them.  Detailed segmentation of mailings and focussed marketing appropriate to the right audiences requires planning ahead in a comprehensive way.

9. High quality design

To engage on the emotional level that makes donors give and give again, materials need to be well designed and pack an emotional punch, with good quality, hi res, emotional photos with real people/animals/environments in them. Well designed publications with emotional (and informal) language engage donors in a powerful way.

10. Powerful, public leadership

A board of trustees that are engaged, show an interest in what staff are doing, boosts staff morale and increases individual staff engagement with their work and performance at their job. Teams that are well led always perform better than those with disengaged or poor leaders. Senior leadership are pushed to the fore for donors and articulate key messages accurately, powerfully and emotionally, so that donors follow their lead and understand the importance of their donations to achieving the vision.

All of these will ensure a charity comes across as coherent, purposeful and well managed. Being an efficient, effective and emotional charity is appealing to support.

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