Fundraising for Fledglings

Fundraising for Fledglings

Stork fledglings. Gerwin Sturm took and uploaded this image to Flikr. Accessed via Creative Commons Search.

I’ve spoken to two people recently about how easy it is to fundraise for start-up organizations or projects–fledglings.

It’s easy if you stay organized and focus on “just-enough” and “just-in-time” funding sources.

How to know what those are? Read on. This post may be useful to those in more mature organizations as well.

There are basically only three things to remember in order to have the money you need, when you need it:

  1. Think in chunks: break down your organizational or project lifecycle into manageable chunks. Here’s a great post on how to do that, in exquisite detail, if I do say so myself. For start-ups, three months is a good chunk. For larger or teenaged organizations, six months is a good chunk. For mature organizations, you need to learn to think in annual terms, not less. But hey! If you’re a fledgling, don’t think like this now. It’s too much too soon = too hard.
  2. Know how much you need for your next season. (Not this season. That’s basically a done deal. But by starting to use this method, you won’t come up short in any season.) Timeline everything and stick to your timeline.
  3. Ask for funding as part of your everyday work, all the time. Make it normal to ask for support. How you ask for support will vary greatly. Here are some tips:
    • larger donors need more relationship-building, no matter how wealthy they are, because they are investing significantly in your work
    • smaller donors need less relationship-building but give smaller donors as much as you possibly can because they are your base
    • events lose you money unless you research how to do them carefully + the event costs are donated + you aren’t paying staff
    • people will give you money to do your work, period, without any frills or folderol or fancy anything. You can always reward them with fancy stuff, but the most important thing is to thank them at least twice: when you ask, and when they give, which are clearly not always going to be the same thing
    • you already know everyone you need to know to start asking. I know you think I’ve only worked with wealthy organizations–the opposite is true.
      • If you want more ideas, start with this article. (Here’s the title: “Prospect Identification: You Already Know All the People You Need to Know to Raise All the Money You Want to Raise.”) It will cost you $3 for a PDF sent immediately to your inbox. OR you can subscribe to the journal whence it came and get their entire archive of articles FREE. This will be the single best investment of your fundraising career. I don’t get a percentage of your subscription. I suggest subscribing to the Grassroots Fundraising Journal to everyone raising money. PS: All the handouts in my fundraising trainings come from their archive!

Fundraising training with me is a thing. I do it! I’m proud to be doing it next this September for the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, day-long. I make it affordable, so please contact me if you’d like to know more.


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