Fundraising strategy: getting the right mix
When developing or reviewing your fundraising strategy, how do you get the right mix? How do you select the right combination of income streams?
Whether you are new to fundraising or long established, you are faced with a deluge of expert opinion and statistical analysis. This can lead to fundraising professionals becoming preoccupied with method. Your starting point must be the mission and beneficiaries of your charity. This must also be the benchmark to which you return when measuring success and reviewing policy.
Fundraising audits aren’t fit-for-purpose if full of fundraising jargon but silent on the needs of the cause, the extent to which these are being addressed and the non-financial outcomes of fundraising activity. Fundraising is a means to an end and needs to be an integral part of overall policy, not an externalised necessary evil.
THE RIGHT COMBINATION FOR YOU
This is not just a philosophical or ethical point of view: it is extremely practical and will result in your fundraising strategy containing the appropriate mix of methods and targeting. It will also locate the fundraising function appropriately within your organisation. Where does fundraising fit with your campaigning arm if you have one? If you don’t, should you have one and would this be the most cost-effective method of donor acquisition, rather than high-cost direct mail campaigns? Is fundraising mentioned in the job descriptions of all staff and in the terms of reference for trustees, figurehead leadership and other volunteers?
As a professional you have a duty to be well informed on latest fundraising methods, their efficiency and cost effectiveness. As a professional you have an obligation to identify new and changing sources of funds. Your touchstone for evaluating this knowledge is how it relates to those who benefit from your charity. Resources are always finite. Professional and well-informed judgement is essential to ensure that these valuable resources are not wasted in taking fundraising down too many blind alleys.
YOU CAN SAY NO
You are allowed to say, “No. This source of funding is unlikely to justify the necessary investment. This source of funding does not fit with our culture.” Many organisations have taken completely valid decisions to spurn the potential for National Lottery support; some because of their moral position on gambling; others because the lottery requirement to broaden access would act against the interests of the people who are the beneficiaries the charity was created to serve. A donor acquisition campaign with a total cost of £300,000 and a notional payback over the next ten years in terms of lifetime donor value may just be too risky for your charity.
GETTING THE MIX RIGHT
Different fundraising methods work differently with different causes. Cancer care, with its universal relevance, can benefit very cost-effectively from the high outlay of direct marketing: face-to-face, phone, mail. The appeal of a collection of rural crafts commonly found throughout the Mendips “would be a bridge too far” for the most expert of direct marketeers. The fact that everyone does face-to-face or merchandising does not mean that you have too as well.
Assess the likely benefit of each particular method to your cause and proceed accordingly.
Carefully consider the priority given to different sources of funds. The identification of a new source of funds for work which your organisation could do, may seem like manna from heaven. But it could result in changing your mission to suit the funding available. For many, many organisations the biggest challenge is core funding to consolidate and sustain primary activity. Achieving a new grant from a new source which obliges a charity to take on a new project, when it is struggling to fund its core activity, can actually be damaging. The acid test of benefit needs to be applied. The consolidation of core service is likely to help more people than the expansion of service into an untried area.
KEEPING PEOPLE WITH YOU
Everyone concerned with your charity, paid and volunteer, is a de facto ambassador for your cause and your fundraising. Their friends, family and neighbours know who they work for. What they say has an influence that often goes unrecognised and therefore neglected. Keep people informed about successes and disappointments. It is important the others in your charity know why your fundraising is organised the way that it is. The better informed they are, the better they can support and, if necessary, defend the fundraising process.
Chart your own course which is right for your charity – don’t just follow the crowd.
Whatever your fundraising experience, talking to and working with fundraising consultants can be a helpful part of developing your fundraising strategy and getting the right mix for your organisation.
Craigmyle consultants can conduct fundraising audits and support strategic development. Find out more about our strategic development service. To discuss how we might be able to help you, give us a call on 01582 762441 or complete an enquiry form.