Fundraising is a strategic activity of collection of financial resources aimed at guaranteeing the sustainability over time of a Not-for-Profit Organization (NPO) and its social cause. It is a process of growth oriented to promote the NPO constant development by affirming its “social identity” towards its stakeholders. It is based on a relationship between your organization and the donor.
As it is a strategic activity, the fundraising plan needs to be developed according to a specific fundraising cycle: a set of steps you need to go through to build your fundraising model.
The first phases of the cycle aim to build the fundraising model – including the fundraising start-up, the organization analysis, the environment analysis and the design and planning – while the following cover the implementation, monitoring and evaluation and the cycle review.
The first step, the fundraising start-up, involves the definition of the “case statement” that will communicate to the external audience the good cause of the organization to be supported. The case statement includes the vision (how the organization sees the reality in the future, the ultimate aim of the NPO), the strategic objectives (what the NPO wants to achieve in order to reach the mission) and the operative objectives related to activities needed to implement the strategy. To be successful, the case statement must be: feasible, distinctive and motivating. In this phase you also need to identify potential internal barriers and the way to overcome them. Finally, you need to identify who will do the fundraising, or to find the budget to do so. Last but not least, you need to involve all internal stakeholders to have their buy-in and support.
Second phase is the organization analysis, which includes SWOT analysis to identify internal and external factors on which the NPO can act or implement action to limit the risks. It also includes the funds analysis.
Third phase of the cycle is the environment analysis. It includes the PEST (Political, Sociological, Economical e Technological) analysis, private and public markets analysis and target definition on the basis of your market situation and your mission. Among different targets addressed by the fundraising activities are: individuals, foundations, corporations, philanthropic donors, social investments, new philanthropy and legacies.
Last of the building steps is the design and planning phase. It involves: the fundraising plan definition, which includes the definition and design of the single activities (using a Gantt chart), the choice of fundraising tools and the development of the communication plan. About fundraising tools: no one is better than another, the right choice is to use a mix of tools depending on the objective(acquisition or loyalty) and the type of contact. It’s important to organize them in a synergic plan in order to minimize the risks. Among the tools there are direct mailing and direct e-mailing, events, face to face, telemarketing, web, social media and mobile, off-line and online advertising.
Here we are in the implementation phase. Staff training is the key: people must be trained or you should hire fundraisers. Monitoring should be ongoing, depending on the tools you have, different timing for monitoring as online activities gives you results in real time/in few days, direct mailing takes longer (up to 2-3 months for full evaluation). In this phase you have to manage also the internalization/externalization of fundraising services, deciding how to organize fundraising activities depending on internal and external capabilities. Finally, you need to organize a department in charge of administration, financial and tax issues.
As every strategy, the monitoring and evaluation phase is an important part of the fundraising cycle. Different activities should be evaluated using different indicators; the most common is the ROI (Return on Investment) which considers profits over costs. For acquisition activities, you have to look also at the cost of acquisition of a single donor and the donor behavior over time in terms of renewals (second/third donation) because the real value of the donor is seen in the long term. It is much more expensive to acquire a new donor than to keep one and the loyalty activities are extremely important .
The end of the cycle implies the global review of all the fundraising activities and aspects and defines the beginning of a new cycle.
Example of implementation
#MillionSteps campaign is an advocacy and fundraising campaign focusing on migrants and refugees by MSF Italy – Doctors Without Borders.
Concept: during one year the #MillionSteps campaign tells the stories of people who are forced to flee across the world through: the million steps that refugees, migrants, asylum seekers make in order to survive; the millions of steps that MSF humanitarian workers make to provide medical care; the steps that the public/the supporters can make to help.
Key message: today we are living a huge humanitarian crisis, millions of people are fleeing from wars, instability and violence. Migration policies and plans for arrivals reception demonstrate their inappropriateness to face this crisis: unsafe and illegal channels are still causing loss of lives in the attempt to cross the borders. The need for an adequate global response is urgent.
The campaign uses an integrated approach to spread its message: website, email marketing, social media, celebrities, flash mobs, DM communications, corporate partnerships, TV spots, advertising, merchandising, local groups, events, advocacy, press and breaking news.
Session “Building a fundraising strategy”
Letizia Galli, Luca Visone – Doctors Without Borders
Fundraising: principles, strategies and tools – Download
- Charity: Water contains useful tools to start a fundraising campaign on sustainable grassroots water project around the world.