Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
“Diversify, diversify, diversify.”
This has been, and will continue to be, the mantra when it comes to planning and securing funding. As a nonprofit professional, you know that snapping your fingers will not make dollars magically appear. Building new, sustainable funding streams that align with your mission takes time, energy and a lot of patience, and must occur in the midst of the countless day-to-day activities keeping your organization running. Yet, to help sustain your organization for the long term, diversification is a must.
Vikki Baptiste, development specialist for Bloomington, Ill.-based Mid Central Community Action Inc., agrees. “Since I started in this position three years ago, there has been an emphasis on seeking alternative funding sources. With grants not as secure as in years past, we know that government funding is not something on which we should continue to depend.”
MCCA is 95 percent funded by federal, state and local grants, but it now holds one major annual fundraiser — a recognition gala — as well.
Outline your past, future
Organizational history and insight are critical when it comes to putting together a diversification strategy. Past funding sources, public perception and internal resources can help you determine how to tackle diversification. Performing due diligence, especially when it comes to painting the picture of your current reality, helps your organization make decisions with a maximum opportunity for success.
“My best advice to any development professional is to develop a funding diversification plan that involves your entire board and staff,” says Donna Batter, fund development director for Bellevue, Wash.-based Washington Women In Need. “Essentially, funding diversification is about cultivation and getting personal with donors. Given the fact that more than 90 percent of our organization’s charitable dollars come from individuals, we have a master cultivation system for each segment of our donor base, plus a system for introducing and emotionally connecting donors to our mission.”