Critical Ingredients for Fundraising Success

Submitted by Stewert Crocker on October 30, 2002 - 1:00am.

All of us involved in resourcing the work of voluntary sector organisations have an amazing opportunity to contribute to a better world. As catalysts in the process of raising awareness, and then converting our supporters' compassion into action, we have an enormous responsibility as well.

I am thinking here of our individual responsibility to optimise the net income raised for the cause, or causes, for which we are fighting. But, I am thinking beyond this too. My experience over the last five years as Chief Executive of the Resource Alliance has brought into sharp relief for me the critical importance of our shared responsibility to nurture the trust and confidence of existing and prospective supporters. Throughout the world, enlightened leaders of NGO's are facing the challenge of creating this critical ingredient for fundraising success.

In most countries the culture of philanthropy is alive and well, but this is very often devoted to traditional, personal and religious causes, rather than to the work of non-profit organisations. This means that the leadership must transform organisations in these countries from ones which are seen by many as foreign inspired anomalies, to organisations which are seen as worthy recipients of philanthropic support. This is easier said than done. It requires long-term thinking, planning and investment in many aspects of organisational development. These include:

  • building a credible volunteer Board;
  • developing a clear vision, mission and long term organisational strategy;
  • changing organisational culture from one that thinks in relatively short three year cycles of planning and decision making to one which is comfortable taking a long term view of investment in building relationships with supporters;
  • devoting resources to raising awareness of the organisations' cause and the impact of its work;
  • raising the profile of the organisation and in projecting a positive image;
  • investing in staff and technology required to build a relational database;
  • last but not least in training and developing staff in the skills required to develop and implement the long-term fundraising strategy.

We would all acknowledge that investment in this latter capacity is vital. And yet, all too often, in voluntary organisations operating in developed markets the emphasis is placed on expecting the fundraising function to achieve more without at least an equal emphasis on building all these other critically important capacities.

In the absence of enlightened staff and board leadership, the responsibility for fundraising is conveniently delegated exclusively to the fundraising team. An organisation-wide attention to building these other capacities would have the potential to enhance fundraising and organisational performance.

I believe that the following is of fundamental importance for fundraising

  • an effective programme;
  • delivering demonstrable impact which is well understood across the organisation;
  • a shared conviction that the work is meeting an important and urgent need;
  • a shared belief that if this is creatively and clearly communicated to the right people in the right way it will command support;
  • a clear understanding that the most effective way to generate increasing net unrestricted funds is to invest in building relationships with individual supporters;
  • based on this, an appreciation that the return on investment will be low at first but that has potential to improve over time.

In summary, quick fixes, including undue reliance on statutory donors and one off fundraising activities are simply not a sustainable option. The only root to lasting success is one guided by long term thinking and planning which needs to become the touchstone of way in which the senior team and board alike operates.

This article first appeared in "Global Connections", an ezine publication of the Resource Alliance. You can subscribe free of charge by logging on: The Resource Alliance offers training and other support, as well as opportunities for the exchange of information, experience and ideas on local resource mobilisation, through its regional and international events and its web site. The author is Stewart Crocker, who is Director of Cascaid Consulting which offers NGOs and voluntary organisations worldwide, tailored fundraising / local resource mobilisation training, advice and other services.

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Submitted by Rev. Ron Pate on August 28, 2006 - 5:09pm.

We are finding it difficult to raise "secular" funds because we are en emerging Christian aid group.

Here's a bit of our story. We have a network of 15,000 volunteers in Southern India that we service and work with. We don't choose to name them after ourselves because we find the creation of another big and clumsy aid agency to not be one of our goals. So, we were passed over for giving during the 2004 Tsunami even though no one else was in the region at the time and we were. It is amazing how many agencies pretend to be where a disaster strikes, but I know they weren't there because I was.

Many govenments and media outlets used our statitics and our network, but gave the resources to people not even in country.

So my question comes from experience . . . How do you compete - and I do mean compete because aid agencies do not cooperate when it comes to raising monies - with giant aid agencies advertising budgets when all the money you had went to your workers and to your network?

In an age where it seems capacity building is a priority, why is so little capacity being built in emerging aid agencies?

Thanks for your input. We are not deterred by our past experience. Their was so much good work done during the 2004 Tsunami. We applaud the many who came and helped and put their lives on the line with their deeds!

Submitted by ankhkare on October 31, 2010 - 6:54pm.

I believe that in order to earn money and be rich you need to work with a program like the emi encore marketing one for example. Do you agree with me on that one? I hope so because your life is about to change if you listen my advices.

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