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Fundraising Basics Last Updated: Apr 12, 2009 - 12:22:55 AM

The 10 Most Important Things You Can Know About Fundraising.
By Kim Klein
Apr 8, 2009 - 12:04:10 PM

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These 10 fundraising tips may not be on the top of every fundraiser’s list, but they outline some of the essentials that every fundraiser should know.

  1. If You Want Money, You Have to Ask For It. Potential donors don’t know you need money unless you tell them you need it, explain why you need it, and ask them for it.
  2. ten.gif
    Thank Before You Bank. Send out thank you letters. A way to discipline yourself is to not deposit the donation until the thank you letter is sent.
  3. Donors are Not ATMs. Don’t just go to donors each time you need a contribution
    because they may feel like your ATM, or Automatic Teller Machine. Avoid this by not treating them like an ATM. Send thank you notes. Share your newsletter with them. Make the occasional pitch for a special donation. Invite them to an event. They will feel better about you and may even pass your name and materials on to others—who might become donors as well.
  4. Most Money Comes From People, and Most of Those People Are Not Rich.
    Nonprofit funds come from three sources: earned income (e.g., product sales),
    government funding, and the private sector. The latter includes such sources as
    foundations but is overwhelmingly money from individuals. And there is little variation in giving patterns by race, gender, and income level. Bottom line: you don’t just need to know wealthy donors to do effective fundraising.
  5. People Have the Right to Say No. Not every prospect is going to give you money.
    Some people are tapped out, are distracted by personal events, don’t understand
    what it is you do, or simply don’t want to give to you. When you make the request
    and get a “no,” leave the door open by saying things like: I hope I can touch base with you in the future or something to that effect. And then move on to the next prospect.
  6. To Be Good at Fundraising, Cultivate Three Traits. First, believe in your cause
    and be able to maintain that belief during the downs and through the mundane work. Second, have high hopes but low expectations for what you are able to raise. Third, have faith that people are basically good. Collectively, these traits can help you be a true believer in your cause, which came come across to donors and make you a better spokesperson for raising agency funds.
  7. Fundraising Should Not Be Confused With Fund Chasing, Fund Squeezing, or
    Fund Hoarding. Don’t go after grants if they aren’t part of your mission (fund
    chasing). Don’t treat tight budgeting to deal with a financial crisis as a form of
    fundraising (Fund Squeezing). And don’t raise funds and then just put them into
    savings, although you should plan for use of funds and include in that a fund for
    savings/rainy day needs.
  8. Fundraising is an Exchange—People Pay You to Do Work They Cannot Do
    Alone. Fundraising is not begging, for the latter is asking for money that you do not deserve. If you are doing good work, then you deserve the money to do it. You have to convince donors that they can, in effect, give you money to do work for them that they cannot do alone.
  9. People’s Anxieties About Fundraising Stem From Their Anxieties About Money.
    We are raised to have certain attitudes about money, such as being private about it or being fearful of asking for donations. The biggest attitude changes you can pursue to be better at fundraising are: think about success in terms of the number of people you ask, not the amount you raise; and get rid of your anxiety about asking by keeping in mind that you are asking for help to support a cause you believe in.
  10. There are Four Steps to Fundraising: Plan, Plan, Plan, and Work Your Plan. It’s
    a humorous rule, who true message is: spend time up front mapping out a plan for
    how to reach your fundraising goal. This will cut down on wasted time where you
    spin your wheels with no focus on what to do next. A good first step in planning is to outline your goal (e.g., amount to raise, number of new members by a given time) and then work backwards to outline what you need to do to get there (e.g., number of events, amount to raise, people to reach).

    Summary of: The 10 Most Important Things You Can Know About Fundraising, by Kim Klein. Grassroots Fundraising Journal. January/February 2004.

© Copyright 2009 by Fund-raising at

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