Step Up to the (Fundraising) Buffet
Nonprofit fundraising coach and consultant Sandy Rees specializes in helping small nonprofits raise more money. She’s been doing it since 1998 and believes that these nonprofits especially have to get the most bang for their resources as possible. With limited staffs and budgets, every penny and second counts — even more so than for their larger counterparts.
The intended audience for her latest book, “Fundraising Buffet,” Rees says, is “small nonprofits that are still trying to get their legs underneath them.”
Here, we talk with Rees about the book and the advice she has for her readers.
FundRaising Success: What was the impetus for writing this book now?
Sandy Rees: There’s a group of us that work on things together frequently, and we all focus on small nonprofits. We realized there was a need for some solid information focused specifically at small nonprofits, so we decided to collaborate and put the book together. It was a great chance to gather the information from some of the best coaches and consultants for small
This book is a collection of great info for small nonprofits. And because it comes from many experts, it’s chock-full of nuggets of gold.
FS: Can you tell us the top takeaway points from some of the chapters in the book?
- Fundraising planning: You can plan to fail or fail to plan — your choice. Planning doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be done.
- Donor relations: Relationships are key to successful fundraising, and they don’t happen by accident.
- Donor acknowledgment: Thanking and acknowledging a donor properly not only wraps up the current gift — it sets up the next gift. Get this right and everything else gets easier.
- Grant writing: Putting a system in place to consistently get grant money isn’t hard, but it does require you to be organized and do your homework.
- Direct mail: Direct mail isn’t dead and is still a great way for small nonprofits to communicate with donors and solicit gifts.
- Newsletters: Newsletters are the most common way to communicate with donors and prospects. When done well, they deepen relationships and build trust. When they’re slapped together, they’re a waste of time and money.
- Major gifts: Focusing on individual donors is the absolute best use of your time and attention. More than 90 percent of your donations from individuals probably come from about 10 percent of your donors. Focus on the 10 percent.
- Planned giving: There’s a tidal wave of money about to be transferred from one generation to the next. Be prepared and talk to your donors about including your nonprofit in their giving plans.
- Volunteers: Many hands make light work. But you must be clear about the work to be done and be prepared to give volunteers a good experience if you want to keep them.
- Special events: Most small nonprofits do way too many special events. Do one or two, and do them well for maximum success.
FS: Can you list the main points you would like readers to take away from the book as a whole?
SR: The main point is that just because you work for a small nonprofit doesn’t mean you have to raise small dollars. Get organized, tell your story and ask for the gift. The opportunities are endless.
FS: What do you consider to be the most challenging thing for fundraisers at small nonprofits — beyond the obvious “lack of money”?
SR: Staying focused. It’s very easy in the small shop to hop from one thing to the next, trying to do everything. You get much better results when you focus on the most important things.
FS: What do you hope readers will think/feel/do once they finish this book?
SR: We hope they’ll feel excited and ready to take their fundraising to the next level! We want them to better understand what it takes to do fundraising well and how they can implement some best-practice activities in their office.
(For ordering and other information about “Fundraising Buffet,” click here.)