Principles of Fundraising, IMHO (Part 2)
Last week, I started my list of 11 principles of fundraising. These are from the final lecture I give to students when I teach a class in fundraising — the very least I hope they remember as they enter the nonprofit workforce. Each principle is something I learned (sometimes the hard way) from three decades of trial and error, and reading or listening to the advice of people more experienced than I was.
For those of you hoping for a cheat sheet before the big exam (just kidding!), here are the first 4:
- Principle 1: You are NOT the target audience. So figure out who is.
- Principle 2: You have to spend money to raise money.
- Principle 3: You have to ask to receive.
- Principle 4: Use multiple fundraising tools for balance.
Being a person who likes precision, I am still trying to come up with a 12th principle before next week (feel free to offer suggestions in the comment box below), but meanwhile, here are the next four.
Principle 5: Good programs need good fundraising. Good fundraising needs good programs.
Your nonprofit is going to have a hard time fulfilling your mission — no matter what that is — without funding. Money makes things happen, and enough money means programs can grow and do even more good.
But it's very hard to raise money when you have mediocre (or worse) programs. Without success stories to point to and impact to demonstrate, you're asking people to invest in a dream. And while that may work for a while, eventually donors expect to see some return on their investment — lives changed, trees planted, schools improving or whatever it is your mission promises to deliver.
It's hard to separate programs and fundraising; each one grows stronger when the other one succeeds.