Top 2013 Fundraising Lessons for 2014
Faisal Yousaf is a strategy and planning expert who has worked in various programme and fundraising roles with international organisations including the UN in Pakistan, Tanzania, Sudan, New York, and Bonn. He is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. Faisal is enrolled in Future Leaders Programme for Fundraising in the UK. You may reproduce, share, or republish this article. Follow Faisal on Twitter: @Faisalswe
1: Promote diversity in your international fundraising team
This is a known fact that the least diverse team in international organisations including the UN is likely to be found in donor relations and fundraising section/division. A recent survey of the Institute of Fundraising in London, although conducted in a national context, found that 87 per cent of fundraisers among its 1,500 member organizations are white. A similar survey in an international context may also show very similar findings with comparative lack of diversity in fundraising teams in international organizations and the UN system. Diversity in fundraising teams will potentially result in attracting top talent, more creativity and ideas, enhanced efficiency and productivity as well as stronger donor and stakeholder relations. A more diverse fundraising team composed of highly talented team members will contribute to achieving stellar fundraising results.
2: Foster a fundraising and partnership “culture” across the whole organisation
Fundraising and partnership building is not about individual job or position, it is about a well-established culture that characterizes the whole organisation. So we should involve, sensitize and engage every relevant person in the organisation and provide them with platforms for sharing of fundraising knowledge, skills, and resources.
3: Attention on private sector fundraising is overrated
There is a no single quick fix for diversifying funding base by emphasizing the need for increased fundraising from the private sector in 2013. First, educate and engage your potential private sector, and then make an ask for a contribution only few years later.
4: Donor reporting is the most important step in fundraising cycle
One might have submitted a good funding proposal at the beginning of a project/programme but nothing is more important in a fundraising cycle than a quality donor report submitted duly before an agreed deadline. A progress, annual or final report to a donor offers a critical opportunity to capture the results achieved, demonstrate value for donor investment in your organisation, and build a case for continued donor support in years ahead – especially when your focal point in the donor institution has moved on to another job.
5: Focus on building internal strengths and external support will follow
There will always be funding and donor support for organisations, which are inherently stronger than other competitor organisations in terms of our comparative advantage, human talent, transparent system, and cost effectiveness. This cannot be work-in-progress forever!
6: Nurture individual relationships in donor institutions
Donor institutions tend to be large, multifaceted, and complex. Your focal point in donor institution is your key to building an understating of the internal dynamics and working of a donor institution. The quality of a donor relation at individual/personal level is a key factor in determining the success of your fundraising efforts. So prioritize continued relationship building at individual and personal level – though it might seem repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming.
7: Communicate about not communicating
While many international organisations would normally dedicate significant amount of resources for elaborate external communication and donor visibility campaigns, not every organisation need to follow the growing trend of pursuing a forceful communication strategy including through social media. However, we must communicate to donors why we do not want to communicate in the way other organisation would normally do. So communicate strategically about not communicating due to organisation specific imperatives such as lack of budget, the nature of work, etc.
8: Invest in staff education, new learning and training opportunities
Investing in staff education and development – for example, focusing on donor relation and grant management – should not be left out of your annual planning and budget allocation process. Investment in staff development and education will produce several pay-offs such as building of widespread fundraising culture, better donor satisfaction, as well as raising of staff morale and retention.
9: Travel internally within your organisation first
As fundraising and external relations professional, it is equally important to travel internally within your organisation first and later to external parties. With field support missions one could have meaningful interactions and exchange of ideas with colleagues, partners and donors in order to learn and develop a better understanding of the local context for programming, operations, and fundraising.
10: Small things are all that matters in the end
It is through the small things that can help us not only build and strengthen existing relationships but also open doors for new opportunities for fundraising and partnerships. For example, writing a formal letter to a donor focal point may seem old-fashioned and cumbersome but it could also prove to be really impactful in triggering the desired outcome and response.