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Contribulet Webinar: Fundraising in Bay Area

So your non-profit is up and running, but how do you go about raising money to fund events and projects? If you missed Contribulet’s second webinar featuring panelists Ann-Marie Meacham, Bev Lenihan and Josh Selo, watch the video at the end of this article or continue reading for valuable insights and advice from the panelists on how to successfully fundraise as a non-profit.

How has non-profit fundraising evolved?

  • The fundraising landscape is shifting away from grants, as they can be unreliable, and is moving towards individual donors.
  • With more individual donors funding non-profit work, building relationships with those donors is crucial to fundraising success.
  • Dollars available to non-profits continues to increase, as social awareness about a variety of issues within the community is on the rise.

What are some challenges of fundraising?

  • 90% of the funds raised are being used outside of the local community: it is essential to build partnerships with non-profits and community groups to ensure money raised is being used where it is needed.
  • As fundraising evolves, so too do methods by which non-profits solicit donations. Innovation is crucial to designing fundraising strategies and securing donor funds.
  • Fundraising is not as easy as it appears. Successful non-profits need more than passion and good ideas to successfully secure donations; minimizing turnover of board members and executives is essential to maintaining consistency in strategy.

What are strategies to build successful non-profits despite high turnover?

  • The Board of Directors must be dedicated to hire and retain the right leadership for a given organization, and provide employees with tools for success once they are hired.
  • Importance of the mission statement: The mission statement is a guiding tool that should be well-known and reinforced throughout the organization at every opportunity.
  • There should be a known balance between governance and management, with board members continually educated on maintaining the balance.

How should a Board of Directors manage?

  • A strong partnership between the management team, development team and Board of Directors is essential.
  • Strong management starts at the top, and is reinforced at every level of the organization.
  • Board members need to invest time and effort into building strong relationships with donors to maximize success of fundraising efforts.

How should you manage relationships with donors?

  • Diligent record keeping is essential: use a donor management or CRM system to track all donor interactions and funds received.
  • Continual interaction with donors, or touch points, is necessary to keep donations coming.
  • Telling donors stories and providing them with tangible examples of how their money is being used to make progress is exceptionally impactful. At the end of the day, donors want to make a change. Providing tangible evidence as to how donors are making a change can secure continued donations.

How can you determine a good donor?

  • Donors should be clear about what is important to them, and non-profits should build relationships to understand why certain causes are important. This will provide insight about securing donations for future projects
  • Donors who identify with an organization tend to be more financially supportive. When a donor shifts his/her rhetoric from “your organization” to “our organization”, the donor feels an internal connection to the cause.
  • Donors who start as volunteers typically have a better understanding of what work is being done and how it is being done. They also understand the financial needs of the organization and will be more likely to donate.

How is success defined in an organization?

  • Success starts with the vision: it should be written early to provide a clear path towards long term success.
  • Since the vision can take years to accomplish, setting milestones or benchmarks will continue to motivate staff and the executive team as those benchmarks are achieved.
  • Implementing a strategic plan is essential, as it serves as a roadmap for the organization. Understanding the strategic plan guarantees projects are aligned with the vision and goals of the non-profit.
  • Understanding impact is essential, yet difficult. It can be tough to see the tangible progress an organization is making at times, but it is important to identify such progress and continually relay successes to donors.

What can non-profits do to be more successful?

  • A non-profit is nothing without its donors: it is important to continually express love and appreciation for all those who contribute to your organization.
  • Careful selection of the Board of Directors is imperative, as the Board will guide the organization through successful philanthropic endeavors.
  • Maintaining a high standard of ethics and excellence is crucial for all stakeholders in the organization.
  • Alignment of vision and purpose must occur between the Board of Directors, development team, and executives.

What advice do you have for non-profit staff, and what are proven strategies for success?

  • Take the work seriously: non-profit work is not easy or gentle, it is important to stay persistent and continually strive to meet the organization’s goals.
  • Finding and building a relationship with a mentor can provide valuable insight and advice.
  • Meet with donors face to face, it is the way to build the strongest relationships and proves the most successful in securing donations.
  • Having a plan for fundraising is crucial in order to ensure sufficient donations for upcoming projects and events.


Be sure to check our website for upcoming webinars and events near you!