Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A challenge in fundraising

I have caught myself saying many times that if fundraising at my current organization was easy, then I would be bored at not happy. I have always loved the challenge that come with fundraising, whether the economy is tough or I fundraise for a cause that is not well known, I love the challenge.

There is a difference between challenge and desperation.

I can be as successful as the next person with creative fundraising campaigns, energetic meetings with donors, constantly in communication with everyone who supports the organization and bringing in new corporate and individual partners.

Yet the first question I have to ask is whether or not my organization is viable. Is it financially sustainable? Standing alone, a sole fundraiser cannot change the financial direction of an organization. That takes a team which includes a strong development team, an out of the box thinking Executive Director, a staff that gets it and a board that is 100% committed not solely to the mission but to the viability of the organization.

And just to be clear, if you do not have all of that in your current organization is doesn't mean you are doomed to fail. It simply means that the challenge you were hoping for is full throttle and one that cannot be met with your fundraising skills alone.

What I have found that is so important in viability is having honest conversations with the most generous donors of an organization. Long term donors want to keep giving and in many cases want to give more. Yet they need to know that their money is not being wasted. That the organization is going to be around in the next five to ten years (and more!).

I have also found that it is important from a fundraising perspective that long term donors see new donors coming in, that all of any challenges are not only being met by the same people who have always been there. I would say that this means not only individual donors but includes major donors and new corporate partners.

Show me the money before I show you the money, in other words.

I totally get this. It makes complete sense.

I am going to continue writing on this topic for a while and would love your feedback. And ideas. And experiences. Feel free to leave a comment or email me directly at dhanley@operacolorado.org

Thank you very much for reading!

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