Every institution and nonprofit organization wants to raise more money but many have a limited number of staff to do this. Even the “small shops” can be very successful in raising funds if they are focused on the right things and are disciplined in their work.
No matter how large or small your fundraising team, if you are in the business of seeking charitable gifts you have, undoubtedly, thought about these questions.
- Do we have enough staff?
- Do we have the right staff who know how to and are willing to ask for charitable gifts?
- Do we have staff who are willing to be “on the road”?
- Do we have a president or CEO who is able and willing to make visits and make asks?
- Do we have the right database in place with the right information in it?
These are certainly all good questions to ask as you work to raise more money, but, to be very successful in raising money, there are some questions you may need to answer first.
- Do we have a clear, concise, and compelling mission statement with which donors resonate?
- Do we have a vision statement or a strategic vision that we understand, buy into, and communicate effectively?
- Do we have a governing body that has affirmed and approved of our mission and vision and is demonstrating that through their personal charitable support?
- Do we have board approved policies related to charitable giving that will give us the necessary guidance and support to accept and reject gifts?
As a part of the advancement team you probably do not have control over the answer to these second set of questions but are an important part of your institution/organization and can encourage those who are responsible for them to focus on them. Here are some focused questions to help you assess how your institution or organization is doing with regards to these questions.
- Is your mission statement short enough for most people to memorize it?
- Does your mission statement include who you are serving and what you are attempting to accomplish?
- Do the staff and faculty at your institution/organization “own” the mission statement?
- Is your mission statement ubiquitous in your written and electronic materials?
- Do you have a vision statement that is both aspirational and inspirational?
- Is your written strategic plan in alignment with your vision statement?
- Is your vision statement something that you and your advancement colleagues refer to easily as you visit with current or prospective donors?
- Do these donors get excited when you explain the vision of your institution/organization?
- Does your governing body (Board of Directors, Trustees, etc.) own the mission and vision and refer to it regularly as they go about their work?
- Do all the members of your governing body contribute a charitable gift every year to your institution/organization?
- Are members of your governing body making lead gifts to help fulfill your mission and vision?
- Does your institution/organization have a clear gift acceptance policy that provides guidance for you and your colleagues on what gifts to accept and what you should not accept?
- Does your institution/organization have policies related to recognition of charitable giving as well as the naming of spaces or buildings?
If your assessment of any or all of these key questions suggests that improvements are needed, review your assessment with your direct supervisor. He/she can guide you and your colleagues in the role that you may be able to play to strengthen your institution/organization. If you are able to answer all of these questions affirmatively you are well positioned for fund raising success.