Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
When you have a full understanding of both tangible and intangible costs, you can focus your diversification priorities in areas that help fill short-term needs but have long-term value.
Another key component to starting down the path to fund diversification is a community audit, or market analysis. You are, in fact, competing for attention and funding among the other worthy causes in your “community” — whether bound by geography, common interest or passion. It’s important to understand the culture of your community as well as your organization’s brand awareness, as these will help drive any foundational work you must do before a fundraising program can be successful.
“Up until last year, the main thrust of our diversification efforts had been to extend community awareness of our agency and programs, in the hope that we could gain more public interest and, therefore, more donations from individuals and local businesses,” Baptiste explains. “Our recognition gala is really more of a ‘friendraiser,’ as it helps feed our individual contribution efforts.”
Points to keep in mind
Seven key indicators help set the stage for success, regardless of which diversification initiatives you determine are right for your organization.
● COMMIT to fundraising and development.
● Set a BUDGET — it takes money to make money.
● Have dedicated STAFF.
● Embrace TECHNOLOGY.
● Set REALISTIC but aggressive expectations.
● Implement small, SUSTAINABLE changes.
● Remember that it takes TIME.
Austin, Texas-based LifeWorks, which provides support and services to runaway and homeless youths in central Texas, recently benefited from its diverse funding environment. The organization has more than 60 funding sources, including federal, state and local government.
“Nonprofits must be prepared for inevitable changes in funding priorities and sources of funding,” says Cheri Hicks, LifeWorks’ director of finance. “We recently experienced this when a funding agency shifted funding priorities, which resulted in a loss of monies for several programs.