Five Rs of Fundraising

While you’re raising funds for a charitable organization, there’s one approach to generating donations that’s sure to prove successful. Consider how much time and effort goes into planning small and major special events.  Now, imagine that same effort strategically targeted toward cultivating a lifetime donor…a fan who loves and supports your organization and its mission over the long term.  This single concept, so often ignored, can make the difference between surviving from event to event and having a steady stream of program-sustaining money coming into your nonprofit.  Nothing will net rewards with your donors like relationship building.

The “Five Rs of Fundraising” was created roughly 25 years ago, while on staff at Fraternity Management Group. Its application, however, can be used by all non-profit organizations. While many organizations believe that coordinating special events is an ideal method for raising funds, building relationships with current and prospective donors generates far greater sustainability. You may want to consider the following Five Rs of fundraising:

Research
This forms a solid basis of understanding of your organization’s fundraising endeavors, not to mention its individual constituent relations. From basic records management to in-depth interviews, information is key to success. With proper research, the interests, needs, charitable backgrounds, professional experiences, personal connections and links to your organization are identified and recorded.

Recruiting
This phase is going on constantly, but primarily during the same time frame as heavy research. Volunteer leaders, including development committee members, board members, and campaign steering chairpersons play integral roles in successful fundraising campaigns. The amount of work involved and the number of prospective contributors and volunteers connected with the organization, who must be contacted, requires proper recruitment and management.

Romance
Commonly called cultivation, this is perhaps the most important part of the process. All contact with prospective contributors is a form of cultivation. Every newsletter, email, phone call, tweet or Facebook message, event, and publicity item serves to inform and pique the interest your organization’s potential supporters. Romancing these prospective major donors, volunteers, and community leaders occurs on a regular basis leads to strategic and successful solicitations. The goal is to encourage prospects to become actively engaged and connected.

Request
This is the good part, where individual prospects are asked, or invited, to invest in the organization. It’s important to note that the levels of gift size and donor satisfaction are increased with proper romancing or cultivation. Actual soliciting of contributions is carried out by key organization leaders and volunteers who are personally engaged in the organization and connected to the person(s) being solicited.

Recognition
Early, frequent, and creative ways to thank volunteers and donors will insure that they stay involved and invested in your organization. It breeds proper stewardship of future donations of time and dollar. It also sets a pattern which other prospects will notice, which be a determining factor when they’re asked to contribute funds.

Every contact, with every individual prospect, involves one or more of the Five R’s. Planning ahead and maximizing the effectiveness of those contacts is what will drive your organizations closer to its fundraising goal.

 

Things to consider when making donations

Making donations to charitable organizations can be a very strategic, methodical, and evaluative process. For many, the donations are more than mere “gifts”, they’re actually investments in causes, organizations, needs, and beneficiaries. A key component of the donor-decision process is quality information. When working with our clients on their giving strategies, we advise an analysis of organizations in five functional areas of charitable operations.

Data & Efficiency

Be sure to look at the organization’s finances to determine such things as proper allocation of funds between administration, programs, fundraising, etc. We recommend using Guidestar to review the organization’s 990 provide sufficient data for an initial screening, enabling donors with a good look at financial performance.

Finance & Fund Development

Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. This includes compliance with financial requirements, sound accounting principles, and fiscal responsibilities. Since non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries, they have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions.

Governance

A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Strong boards strive to ensure that their organizations have adequate resources, provide direction for the executive director and key staff and, evaluate their own effectiveness as governing bodies.

Human Resources

The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission. Exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees is just one best practice. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

Public Information

Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. This works to their advantage as donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission.

Ideally, donors placing their “investments” with organizations are doing so through strong existing relationships. However, whether donors are already engaged with these organizations or have yet to meet their leaders, taking an in-depth look at these five areas will help solidify the receipt, usage, distribution, and recognition of financial contributions.

 

 

Article in Generation Boomer magazine

Community volunteerism is a cornerstone of philanthropy. At NPcatalyst, we allocate a considerable amount of resources toward making volunteerism accessible, meaningful, and impactful. We create opportunities and connections for both non-profit organizations and the aspiring leaders who wish to donate their time.

Recently, we were asked to inspire the boomer generation to “give back” to their community. The end result was an article co-authored with Scott Trevithick, who is the executive director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at the University of Nevada’s Sanford Center on Aging. The article, entitled “Using your skills to enhance the community”, appears in Generation Boomer magazine.

Here is an excerpt describing the benefits of volunteerism…

There are countless benefits associated with volunteerism. From improving one’s health to helping organizations accomplish goals, the value of “giving back” or “making a difference” felt by the volunteer, as well as the charitable organization, can be significant.

For boomers, there’s one big question – how does someone start volunteering and where does he or she go for direction?

For many, taking the first step is very difficult. Determining which organization to select, how to approach it, how much time to offer and in what capacity, and when to make the initial contact can be stressful, uneasy, intimidating and, to a degree, frightening.

We also offered a little advice…

As you begin your search for the ideal volunteer situation, here are a few tips to consider or questions to ask yourself.

  • Is there an age group with which you’d particularly like to work, such as children, students, young professionals, or seniors?
  • Is there a cause which connects to you, perhaps animals, environment, arts, recreation, or education?
  • Do you have a special talent or skill? Is there a good place to teach or share that ability?
  • How often would you like to volunteer – one-time for a special event, now and then, or regularly? Is flexibility important to you?
  • Do you have neighbors or friends who volunteer or could you join others from work, a club or church or other group you’re a part of?

Tapping into the interest and expertise of boomers and seniors makes sense.

One thing is certain, nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers to grow and meet community needs. They’re continually looking for leaders, particularly boomers and seniors, who bring experience and skills which can be applied right away.

Click here to read the entire article.