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So you want to be a fundraiser?

Graduation is a time for inspirational speeches, dreams of what can be, and a look into the future. Even if we ourselves are not the ones graduating, the optimism can be contagious. “Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama. We know that the next generation of fundraising professionals is amongst the class of 2019. Some of you may have your fundraising career plan already marked out. You may be brimming with wonderful ideas, dreams and visions you want to bring to life working for a nonprofit, especially as a front line fundraiser. This column is for you – and for those who are considering a career transition, or a return to the paid workforce. Many a graduate […]

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Three steps to creating an RFP

Three steps to creating an RFP

Part two of a two part series Building a fundraising program – or preparing for a campaign – often requires contracting for services. These can include campaign counsel in general, or more specific services such as a feasibility study, major gifts strategy, marketing services, proposal writing, strategic planning, campaign planning, and/or social media management. Contracting is often the right way to secure the services you need for a specific project, but which you don’t need to retain on staff. When preparing to contract for services, issuing an RFP can be a fair and equitable way to identify the right vendor or consultant. As noted in part one of this series, it also takes time. When you are ready to craft an RFP, here are three things to consider. First, do […]

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RFP exposure: good or bad?

RFP exposure: good or bad?

Part one of a two part series When it’s time to contract for services, design a new building, or make technology upgrades it’s time to issue an RFP – short for “Request for Proposal.” You might want to go with someone you know, but that may not be in your best interest. In fact, you might be locking out the best qualified. And, as too many of us know, failing to issue an RFP means small, local and minority businesses lose a chance to compete. But, issuing an RFP is work. It takes time and knowledge to craft an RFP that is concise and clearly communicates the goods or services you are seeking to purchase. When you don’t know or aren’t clear you create more work for your organization (staff […]

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Fundraising professional development: a must for everyone

Fundraising today is about more than being fearless in asking for money. Yes, you need relationships, creativity, and intuition.  But today you need even more. Part of fundraising today is the added levels of: sophistication and professionalism data management and segmentation marketing and advertising donor research and wealth screenings market research (including a feasibility study) strategic planning business modeling working from a fundraising plan social media projecting giving trends These – along with your people and their skills – are your capacity and infrastructure. They are also your assets, strengths, and your future. If reading the above leaves you feeling overwhelmed or intimidated, take a deep breath. You don’t need to know everything and do everything to be successful. What you need is exposure to trends, emerging technology, and best […]

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Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO

Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO

Part two of a two part series Whether you are a new or experienced nonprofit executive director there is always more to learn in the area of fundraising. Sometimes the responsibilities can feel overwhelming. In order to help keep you focused and engaged we suggest three actions: raise money, develop and use a fundraising plan, and build a circle of advisors. These will help you grow as a leader and will increase your confidence and ability as a fundraiser. Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO Raise money. Your most important job as the CEO of your organization is to raise money for the sustainability and growth of your organization. One important way that you do this is by identifying, cultivating and soliciting major gifts and […]

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Three things you need to know as a nonprofit executive director or CEO

Three things you need to know as a nonprofit executive director or CEO

 Part one of a two part series As the executive director or CEO of a nonprofit you have many responsibilities. One of those is fundraising. Too often these specific responsibilities are not spelled out until there is a financial challenge looming on the horizon. To help you be proactive we suggest you make it a priority to know three things as it relates to fundraising and your organization. These can help you focus your time and effort so you are leading in the area of fundraising. Three things you need to know as a nonprofit executive director or CEO Who gives the largest gifts to your organization and who are your largest potential donors? Are they individuals? Foundation, business, or government leaders? For your current donors, how much does each […]

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Sweetness of Black-led giving circles

Sweetness of Black-led giving circles

Black giving is part of Black history. And like Black history, it takes place all year long. Black-led giving circles are one example of Black philanthropy and they are growing. These giving circles are an example of ‘for us, by us’ investment and their impact extends beyond dollars. Three advocates for Black-led giving circles recently published an article that tells the story of these circles, placing them within the context of Black community and Black-led solutions. Akira Barclay, Valaida Fullwood and Tracey Webb call attention to the impact of these philanthropic groups, letting people know that “In a high-stakes era, where anti-Black racism is mounting and economic rifts are widening, philanthropy through participation in giving circles is attracting growing numbers of Black Americans.” Giving circles bring people together with a […]

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Is there a campaign deal breaker in your midst?

Is there a campaign deal breaker in your midst?

You’re ready to launch a fundraising campaign. You know what you want to raise money for and how it will impact your organization’s ability to deliver on its mission and vision. You are ready to go. Or are you? Could there be a deal breaker lurking amongst all the perceived “green lights.” Here’s what we have learned: as you move forward in planning a major fundraising endeavor it is important to take time to build consensus both internally and externally. You may think you have consensus, but it can be fractured if you and your team haven’t openly discussed all aspects of campaign preparation. As an exercise we suggest you review the list below to see which area could be hiding a deal breaker now or during the life of […]

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How to write a grant proposal

How to write a grant proposal

 Part two of a two part series If your nonprofit wants to learn how to apply for grant funding, this column is for you. It can be overwhelming to apply for a grant from a foundation or granting agency. Each funder wants to know specific information, but not every one wants the same information. Some ask for a specific word count, others have a page limit, and still others ask you to count the number of characters in an answer to a specific question. The requirements may make you throw up your hands in distress. You can do that, but then we suggest taking a deep breath and focusing on the larger goal: securing funds for your nonprofit. Here are three things to consider as you prepare to write your […]

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How to secure grant support - Part 1

How to secure grant support

Part one of a two part series It can be exciting to learn about grants that are made to nonprofits. Grant announcements are one way the general public learns about investments in education, the arts, community development, entrepreneurship centers, scientific research, and more. They call attention to the grant recipients’ work, and sometimes inspire donors and other foundations to consider investing in a highlighted nonprofit, or to invest in similar ones. The news can also inspire other nonprofits: they hear of the grant, and lightbulbs go off. “We should ask for funding too.” And they are right. Writing grant applications is an important way to raise funds. There are fund development professionals who are busy researching grant opportunities from sun up to sun down. They network at conferences, follow up […]

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