By Maya Cacavas
The number one question we get from our nonprofit partners is “how can we raise more money?”
This question is an important one for any organization looking to raise awareness for their issues and causes. Last week, Social Action Partners hosted a workshop with guest speaker, Laura Ferretti, founder of Impact Philanthropy, who providing some fundraising tips in individual giving.
Check out some of the presentation highlights below!
Form 990’s: A Treasure Chest of Information
The IRS requires all grant making foundations to file a Form 990, which are available to the public. (Guidestar is a great resource for this).
- Identify funders in your area. Because most foundation give locally, identifying funders in your area is a great first place to start.
- Review grants given and past grantees. This information is at the end of Form 990. There you will find a list of grants made in the prior year. The jackpot is when they give you each grant line by line and tell you exactly what it was for – program base (youth, community), programs, operating, etc.
- Look for organizations and causes similar to you. When you identify which foundation(s) are giving money to causes similar to you, you can start focusing your efforts.
While identifying your target foundations is a critical first step, the most important, is the second step – building the relationship.
Relationships, Relationships, and Relationships
In many areas of life, what gets us from point A to Z – aside from hard work, passion, blood sweat and tears! – is our relationship with others. Most of us can recall at least one scenario where we received a promotion, got that cool new job offer, or had some amazing opportunity come our way due to a person’s highly regarded opinion of our work. There is no denying that relationships are an important component of any business model, and fundraising is no exception. Here are four steps to follow when working with a donor:
- Identify the donor
- Cultivate a relationship with the donor
- Solicit or ask for money
- Steward the donor – continuing to cultivate the relationship after the donor has given to your organization
But how do you cultivate a relationship when donors won’t respond to our e-mails, text messages, voicemails, or personalized, jolly singing grams?
Because donors are more likely to give to someone they know, you have to be proactive in building those relationships. One of the best ways to get in front of a donor is to buy a ticket to an event they are hosting or attending. Check their website, search for upcoming events, i.e. community events, award dinners or galas, and make sure to attend it is open to the public. It is important to have a presence so you can make connections with your potential donor. As Laura said, “To become an effective fund raiser, you have to be a giver.”
Building relationships takes time, and engaging donors who will consistently give to your cause will take time and effort. But once you have invested in that relationship, the ask (or solicitation) will be much easier and much more likely to result in the outcome you are looking for. And when your endeavors yield success, don’t forget to continue to invest in and nurture that donor relationship! We have a much better chance of getting a gift from a recent donor than getting a gift from a new one.
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