Too many people in an organization are unclear about how fundraising really works in order to be successful. Hopefully, a little clarification will remove the belief in myths and put all of the leaders on the same page. Everyone, from the staff to the board members to the president or CEO, needs to understand the fundamentals of fundraising for each attempt to be a success. Help create a culture of philanthropy within the organization to ensure that your fundraising events and activities are effective.

Fundraising takes time

In order to receive the payback you want from your fundraiser, you need to make an investment of time. With more time, dollars build up and generate more and more revenues through the visibility and ever-expanding pool of donors.

You cannot expect to quick start a campaign and see major results. It takes time and planning to be efficient.

Fundraising return on investment

You have to put money into a fundraiser to get funds out of it. It’s not a black hole that you throw money into, but rather a smart fundraiser pays for itself. And then some. Generally speaking, for every dollar, you invest in a fundraiser, you’ll receive a yield of three to four dollars in return.

Too often, leaders feel that a good fundraiser can happen without a budget or at least with a smaller one. And then they wonder why contributions dropped. There is a cause and effect that they may not be aware of. Whether the budget goes towards the direct mail campaign or a donor dinner, you will see a drop in contributions that are directly related to the budget spent on the event or activity.

Results of different fundraisers

Different fundraising strategies have different payback results. For instance, events tend to cost more than face to face visits and selling candy bars costs more than utilizing gold cards. This means that while you have a variety of options to choose from for your next fundraiser, consider which will result in the highest payback and which fits into your budget.

Fundraising knowledge

Best fundraising practices have been studied deeply. Research is well established and there is data to back up these practices.

Individuals in charge of your organization’s fundraising should study this research and be able to conclusively decide on a plan of action. By the same token, leadership should not be responsible for making decisions in regards to fundraising unless they, too, have studied the body of knowledge concerning fundraising activities and results.

Too often, individuals base fundraising strategies on personal preferences and private opinions rather than basic facts and proven results.

Support for fundraising activities

Far too often, leaders and board members see fundraising as a separate function from their own within an organization. However, for a successful fundraising campaign, support must be received by everyone within the organization.

Fundraising activities must be integrated with the rest of the organization and its culture in order to truly be effective. Everyone must embrace the events and activities involved in fundraising for the organization, from the president of the organization down to the students who go door to door.

Fundraising takes consistency

You must continually be in contact with donors, even when not actively fundraising. Send out communications that keep individuals informed and up-to-date on the success of past fundraisers, plans for future events, and general information about the organization itself. Without continuous, consistent contact with donors and prospective donors, you will lose touch and no longer maintain the types of relationships needed for generous donations.

What donor expect in fundraising

Donors uphold high expectations for those organizations to which they give. They want to know exactly where their funds are going and would prefer to direct their donations to specific sectors of the organization. Today’s donors are more suspicious of fundraising activities and complete transparency is important to them.

Retaining donors vs. acquiring new donors

It’s better to focus on retaining current donors than on finding new ones. Studies show that on average, 50 to 60 percent of donors do not renew their gifts. You will have a greater chance of convincing someone who has donated once before to donate again than you will with acquiring brand new donors. You’ll end up with higher fundraising returns when focusing on past donors.

Bottom line

The bottom line is that fundraising takes both consistent time and adequate financial input in order to be successful. If you want to raise money, you need to plan and prepare, continuously communicate with donors, and expect everyone within the organization to be accountable for the campaign’s success.