Turn your organization into a Fundraising Powerhouse
Working closely with staff and boards, Janet Levine Consulting will help you increase fundraising capacity and build sustainability. Our philosophy is one of collaboration, where together we develop and implement comprehensive programs that fit the needs and resources of your organization. Call or email today for your FREE 30-minute consultation
A comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to writing winning proposals that will teach you to:
--Assess your organizational readiness for grant funding
--Develop programs that are fundable
--Turn those programs in successful grant proposals
--Find appropriate funders
One of my favorite authors, Jennifer Egan, says in Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Writers on How and Why They Do What They Do, "Exercising is a good analogy for writing. If you're not used to exercising you want to avoid it forever. If you're used to it, it feels uncomfortable and strange not to do."
As someone who thinks that going to gym 5 days a week is the minimum acceptable, I can really relate to that. But I also think it is true of more than just writing; it is equally true of fundraising.
Habits, once made, are as difficult to break as they were to obtain in the first place. Making a habit of fundraising is something that everyone who works at or with a nonprofit must do. Whether you are staff or a volunteer, ensuring the financial well-being of your organization is vital.
I often tell participants in my fundraising workshops that if they've come to learn about the magic bullet (though these days, I'm trying to find a different analogy-suggestions welcomed!) that will ensure fundraising success, I am about to disclose it: Do something. Anything. Just do it consistently. Starting and stopping is the real enemy of fundraising success.
So, make it a habit. Not to hold out your hand and ask everyone to give. Rather, the habit should be to constantly be offering others an opportunity to become involved with your incredible organization. Make it a habit to tell everyone you meet about the impact of the work that your organization does, and why what it does is so important-to you, to its clients, to the community, and, perhaps, to the person with whom you are speaking.
Also make it a habit to thank those who are already supporting your organization. Recognize their generosity-and connect the dots for them, making sure that they know how their support makes a difference.
I'm told that on average it takes 6 weeks to create a habit. So here's what I'm suggesting you do:
- Every day, for the next month and a half, tell at least one new person about your organization and why it matters. And every day, thank at least one donor or volunteer for helping the make your organization the success that it is.
At the beginning, it will seem hard; it will be weird to bring it up, you'll forget to identify those who are already involved. But over time, it will become easier. And one a day won't be enough for you.
In the same book where Jennifer Egan equated writing to exercising, Sara Gruen asserts, "The only thing that makes me crazier than writing is not writing." You'll find it is the same with fundraising.
This month, two of my favorite contributors offer up ways to help your nonprofits be more financially sound. Tanisha Williams of JD Accounting Solutions gives great tips for developing your annual budget. And Mitch Dorger of Dorger Consulting explains what Total Program Costing is and why it matters. And for those of you who would love to make fundraising a habit, "A Whirlwind Tour" of fundraising and grantwriting that can help you to determine where your fundraising efforts should lie and what would help your organization be the most successful.
Need help in increasing your fundraising capacity or getting your Board to participate? Help is here. Email me or call 310-990-9151.
Six Key Steps for Preparing an Annual Budget
Tanisha Williams is the President of JD Accounting Solutions
,helping nonprofits ensure that they are in compliance with all required reporting systems.
Non profit budget preparation is the process of creating a financial plan for paying future obligations; and developing one is an essential part of a nonprofit's health and sustainability. Your budget should use a one-year time frame to illustrate the amount of revenue your nonprofit expects to receive, and show how much money it expects to spend for program services. Your organization should develop a separate budget for each program it operates. By doing this, you'll be able to pinpoint which programs are not operating efficiently. Following are 6 basic steps that you can incorporate when developing a non profit budget for your organization (new nonprofits should begin on step 2):
1. Evaluation and Review -
If your organization has been providing services for over a year, you should review your past years' financial performance to help you predict your non profit budget for the upcoming year. Since your year-end income statement summarizes your past years' financial activity, it can be used as a tool for developing your current-year budget. For example, if you organization is planning to expand operations and/or increase the number of clients served, you can use the "cost per person served" (the total number of people served in each program divided by the total cost to operate the program) to estimate the future costs of expansion.
2. Identify Program Objectives - Identifying your organization's program objectives is a vital step in developing your non profit budget. This process gives your organization a clear vision by identifying the programs, services and projects your nonprofit plans to carry out in the upcoming year. The current-year objectives should fit into your nonprofit's long-range strategic plan; and should move your nonprofit towards the realization of its overall mission and goals. (READ MORE)
|What Is Total Program Costing? And Why Should You Care?
Mitch Dorger, Principal at Dorger Consulting, has more than 40 years of work experience, including 20 years as the chief executive officer in organizations as large as 1800 people with operating budgets up to $100 million. His special expertise in the nonprofit sector includes board development, strategic planning and change management. Connect with Mitch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The band festival was just concluding. The last band had marched out of the performance area and was enjoying hamburgers before boarding the bus for the drive to their hotel. The full stands were emptying out, and the event committee members were ecstatic, patting each other on the back and giving each other high fives. They had nailed the event! Everything went off like clockwork, and all three shows were sellouts or near sellouts. Fabulous, right? Well actually, although no one knew it at the time, the event had just lost the host organization $75,000. How could this be?
The problem was that the organization (at the time) did not use total program costing and, as a result, they really did not understand and appreciate all the costs that went into their event. The organization in question was structured into a series of committees. Some of the committees were event committees and some were support committees which provided logistical support for multiple event committees. The organization's accounting system, like many smaller organization accounting systems -- both in the for-profit and nonprofit arenas -- was good only at tracking specific line items within the budget. So at the end of the year, the system would tell the committee chair how well he or she had done against the total assigned budget and how much in total had been spent in the aggregate on particular line items, but it did not break down the line item costs on an event-by-event basis. Moreover, it had no way of combining the expenses of several different committees into one event budget.
The result in this real life case was that the event committee and the organization's leadership were oblivious to the costs absorbed by the support committee, and the accounting system was unable to assemble all of the costs associated with the band festival.
When the organization finally developed the capability capability to do total program costing, the leadership was stunned to find that this event and several other events which had been considered cash cows were actually losing money.
Just because your organization doesn't do committee based budgeting doesn't mean you don't need to watch out for the problems related to total program cost. The typical accounting system used by nonprofits consists of a chart of accounts (line items). As expenses are incurred, they are coded against these line items. The system tracks these line item expenses over time, and at the end of the year you get the total expenses in that area. But unless you recognize the need for total program costing, you may not have expenses coded against specific events or programs. Let's take a look at another case, this time hypothetical, where this could adversely affect your organization. (READ MORE)
A Whirlwind Tour of Fundraising
In 2010, there were over one million public charities in the US. What they have in common are things like being able to provide a charitable tax deduction to donors, an ability to ask for and get a grant from a private foundation, boards that are supposed to govern and ensure fiscal stability and, typically, a mission that by definition is not self-supporting. By that I mean, in the private sector, the products or services a company sells supports the entire business structure, in the nonprofit sector, our streams of revenue are quite different.
In fact, in the average, only 45% of support for nonprofits comes from fees and services. The government provides another 32%. Government grants account for 9% and charitable giving is about 20%.
Charitable giving-despite what many believe-comes largely from individuals. In fact, over 80% --about 75% from living individuals and 8% from those no longer on this earth, via bequests. Private foundations account for around 14%--though more and more and more of these foundations are what we call "family foundations" and don't actually make grants as give gifts. Those foundations typically do not ask for grant proposals-in fact, they don't accept unsolicited asks. My sister, for example, has a family foundation and the only way to get something from that foundation is to get to know my sister and get her to become involved with your organization. Something that-trust me-is not easy to do.
The other 3% comes from corporations, but as many of you know very well, corporate dollars are shoved into many different pockets and you may be getting the bulk of your support from them.
Getting charitable gifts-fundraising and grantwriting-is a process. And that process is the same for individuals, corporations, or foundations. It is what you do when you are asking large numbers of prospects-those you believe can and would support your organization or cause-for smaller, regular gifts, or much fewer individuals for larger, more singular gifts.
Before you do anything, your first step must be to build your case.
The case statement is an internal document that clearly sets out who you are, your mission and purpose, how you go about meeting your mission-your programs-and the difference your organization makes in your community. It is the document from which all your fundraising efforts grow.
As you take this case outside of your organization-through grants, collateral materials, as you cultivate, solicit, and steward prospects and donors-you will begin to discuss the impact the gift or grant will have. In other words, you will move from an organizational centered attitude to a donor or funder centered one.
Once you have your case, a good next step is to consider the resources you have on hand in order to fundraise. Successful fundraising organizations have a few things in common:
- Have clarity about what they are doing
- There is agreement about the purposes for which funds are being raised
- There is also an understanding that fundraising is important (as well as sometimes urgent)
- The necessary resources for fundraising are provided
- A Board that understands its roles and responsibilities--including giving and getting gifts
- Appropriate staffing so that gifts and grants can be secured
- Fosters a culture of philanthropy
- In the organization
- And in its outside communities.
- Is consistent in its fundraising efforts
Once you understand what you are raising funds for, have your case set, and know what your resources are, the next important step is to understand where you are, where you want to go, and what would be the right mix of fundraising techniques to get you there. (READ MORE)
- Are your fundraising results down?
- Board members bored?
- Or are thinking about a campaign?
Whatever your capacity building needs, Janet Levine Consulting can help.
Send me an email or give me a call at 310-990-9151 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.
I look forward to meeting with you.
Janet Levine Consulting