Sherman County eNews Special Edition H

Sherman County eNews Special Edition H


People give to non-profit organizations because they:

  • are asked (the #1 reason!)
  • believe in the cause
  • experience peer pressure or guilt
  • believe it’s good for their business
  • want to give back for services received
  • feel good about it
  • receive status & ego
  • receive a tax deduction
  • want to build community
  • like to have fun at fundraising events
  • want to change the world
  • want to make a difference.

Notes from the book, Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership, by P. Burke Keegan… by chapter…

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #1

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan

Why Non-profits?

  • Non-profit organizations exist to meet a need or solve a problem that exists outside of them. Some problems are everyone’s problem; some needs are those we all share. Think St. Vincent de Paul Society.
  • Need comes first.
  • Services and programs follow identification of the need. Think food bank, child care, museums.
  • What does your non-profit offer to meet the community’s needs?
  • What will happen for what people at what cost?
  • Where will the money come from?
  • Who do you need to help you?
  • How do you want to grow over the coming years?
  • Until your BUSINESS PLAN is in place, your organization is not ready for fundraising.

The Non-profit as a Business

  • In the for profit world, the business plan is the blueprint for production and sales.
  • In the non-profit world, services are more difficult to quantify. Think Theater Group buying wood, paint, costume fabric.
  • Quantifying hidden costs requires diligent efforts… the cost-equivalent of those who bring refreshments, use their own telephones, materials and tools.
  • Having a business plan means knowing what your services cost, including staff time, materials used, rent, utilities, accounting. What does it cost to serve each client, produce each concert, cook each meal.

Donors are becoming more sophisticated and want to see that you’re watching the balance sheet as well as the program!

Looking into the future:

  • Having a business plan means taking the time to figure out where you are going and how you will get there.
  • Know your costs. Count the cost of fundraising.
  • What will the need look like in five years, ten years?
  • Finding time to plan is always a struggle.
  • Good, realistic planning is the MOST IMPORTANT GIFT you can give your organization!

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #2

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

  1. Do you believe that fundraising is something like begging?
  2. Beggars ask another person to do something and the other person gets nothing in return.

Fundraising is very different!

  • What we are raising money for is something of value.
  • The something of value is your program.
  • Asking people for money for your program is, in fact, inviting them to be your organization’s partner in making something of value happen.
  • They are busy making a living, going to work, driving their children to music lessons. But do not presume that they do not care about the work of your organization.
  • You invite them to write a check, giving them an opportunity to feel as good as you do about the program.

Non-profits and the Corporate Sector.

  • Of course, non-profit organizations are businesses. They make up more than 8% of the national product. They buy computers, housing, paper and cars. They employ people.
  • For profit businesses do not exist to give away money. They exist to make money. See Tom Peters’ book, In Search of Excellence.
  • Start running your organization as though it were a business.
  • Find creative ways to expose your organization to the community as a business. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Serve on civic committees. Image is important here.
  • Involve other business people in the governing of your organization. Not all business people, or all-anything on your board, but a diverse, rich-in-experience board.
  • Consider asking business people to help develop your budget, plan fundraising campaigns, audit your books.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

Who do you serve?

  • Make a list of those you serve, whose lives are affected because you exist, your audience, clients, all kinds of folks who benefit from your work.

Who Needs the Arts?

  • Arts organizations typically focus on their audience as the primary group served.
  • What about needs met by the folks making money on the hall rental, the performers, artists, the Board members?
  • The graying of the audience… people who attend live performances and visit museums tend to be older, and younger people are not taking their places. Older people tend to have money to spend on performances.
  • Without music, math has little purpose.
  • Whose job is it, as school budgets are cut, leaving out arts and music and other enrichment programs, to educate young people to appreciate and understand the arts? Whose job is it to draw in the curious, undereducated young adults?
  • Ultimately this problem will fall on the empty museums and concert halls.
  • It’s in everyone’s best interest to challenge the arts to replace their vision with a broader one, to look way beyond their audience to the greater community.
  • If the organization is a 501(c)(3), their tax exempt status means that they have a responsibility to the community in which they live.

A Word about Free Social Welfare Programs

  • Working in the social services means that you must focus on what is right in front of you, your clients.
  • And… stand back and look out to the larger community beyond them in search of partnerships.
  • Do you provide free services to the indigent? Are your programs free of charge?
  • If so, think about the message you are giving to your clients, donors and the community.  Giving others the opportunity to write a check and become a partner is the real heart and soul of fundraising. People with money can be proud and take joy in helping others.

Beyond the Board: Inviting Community Input

  • Look to the community for partnerships, good-hearted volunteers who want to help your organization.
  • New blood opens your organization to the community. Recruitment of volunteers with energy and commitment takes a tremendous amount of energy.
  • The status quo, keeping board members forever, has a few problems: old age and death, burn-out before old age and death, difficulty in finding new donors when your askers never change, your organization becomes identified with a particular “circle,” and board members fall into a predictable routine.

Old board members and founders have valuable experience and donor connections. Strive for a balanced board that is representative of your community.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #4

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

How Foundations Fit into Your Fundraising Picture

  • The best thing for your organization is to have thousands of hands holding it up! Not one or two foundations or benefactors.
  • Going to foundations for money makes sense if:
    • You want to start up a new program
    • You have a new project you are itching to launch
    • You need technical assistance money to hire an expert to help you take the next big step.
  • Foundation grants by themselves do not make you stable.

Where do Corporations Belong in Your Strategy?

  • Corporations are part of the community and may be open to partnerships.
  • Corporate motives to support your organization may include smart advertising, name recognition, and genuine community good will.
  • Corporate executives are accountable to their stockholders.

Attitudes about Government Money

  • Untold numbers of non-profits believe they are entitled to government support, and a good argument could be made for this case.
  • Counting on government funding is the most foolish thing a non-profit can do! Ask the libraries and public schools!
  • If you think you are entitled to government funding, get over it.
  • Governmental support for non-profits is:
    • Quirky, shifting with political breezes
    • So full of strings!
    • Expensive. Reporting requirements are ridiculously bureaucratic and time-consuming.
    • Hard to get.
    • Political.

The only really reliable source of funds for non-profits is the COMMUNITY!

  • If people write checks to your organization, thank them, communicate with them… they will stay with you!

They will thank you for the good work you are doing!

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #5

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

So what is fundraising, anyway?

  • Terrifying!
  • Necessary.
  • Fun?
  • Mysterious.
  • Something like begging? No.  Beneath me? No.

Start by thinking about why the work of your organization is of value to your community.

  • What about your program makes you feel good?
  • Recognize that the work you are doing is something of value.
  • If you have trouble identifying that value, fundraising will be difficult, if not impossible.
  • An equation: The good things that are happening for people are equal to the money that makes those good things happen.
  • Fundraising is NOTHING like begging!
  • Fundraising gives others the opportunity to give something of value to make something of value happen.
  • As soon as your organization decides that fundraising will not work, they are absolutely correct. It will not work.
  • Back up and take another look. Without commitment, no strategy will work. When there’s commitment, there’s no strategy that won’t work.


  • The work we do comes from the community, so good community-based fundraising means going out to the community and giving people the opportunity to write a check to meet their own need, solve a problem or provide a needed service.
  • Ownership is a big, important word in fundraising. The feeling you get when you write a check for a non-profit and read about it in the newspaper… ownership, connectedness, invested.
  • Stay focused on the fact that you raise money for people… not projects. What people? What services for the people?
  • People give to people … when asked.


  • Most non-profits exist hand-to-mouth. Enough money to get by the next __ months.
  • Non-profit does not mean NO profit. It means that individuals in your organization may not profit from your organization’s work.
  • Fundraising from a crisis mentality isn’t a good argument, makes you look flaky. The only crisis you may take out to the community when you are asking for money is the crisis that would affect the community and the people you serve if you did not exist.


  • Wall of time… enough time to do events, enough money for postage, enough volunteers to do the work. Over and over each year.
  • Wall of fear of fundraising. Rejection. Courage.
  • Potential donors are rejected because we don’t want to ruin friendships, or ask our friends, clients or volunteers, or ask those who we think don’t have money to

The ASK.

  • Call to make an appointment. Do your homework, know what you want to ask and why.
  • Tell the truth in your relationship with the donor. Be an open book.  Absolutely honest.
  • All non-profits exist to serve the common good. The community will be more inclined to be involved, donating money and time, if they are welcomed into the process.

Fundraising brochures.

  • Just enough words to make the reader want to know more.
  • Accompany the asker on a face-to-face ask, or it goes in a letter that requests money.
  • Must be beautiful and readable, too good to throw away.
  • Must be proofread by at least three people. Read it backwards, word by word.

A good fundraising brochure DOES include:

  • Great photos
  • Lots of white space
  • Opportunities for the donor
  • Your organization’s address and phone number
  • Soothing, warm colors
  • A brief explanation of how the money is used and what your organization does to enrich the world
  • Up-beat, readable phrases with bullets or very short sentences.

A good fundraising brochure does NOT:

  • Resemble a thesis.
  • Contain a complete history of your organization.
  • Contain irrelevant photos and miniscule type, impossible to open, read or understand.
  • Contain inserts that fall out when you open it.
  • Include a coupon for the prospect to clip and send in.
  • Ask for money.
  • Focus on more than three ways to give.

Focus on Fundraising Priorities.

  • Focus on the donor
  • Focus on why a particular fundraising activity is happening, then make sure it happens
  • “What do we want to have happen here?” Make a list.
  • “How much money do we want to raise? How little can we tolerate making?”
  • What media is best suited to our purposes?
  • What is the minimum gift we consider major? How will we honor those givers?
  • Focus on the goals. Write them down. Put them where you will see them every day.
  • Do not get distracted by frustrated board members, needy volunteers.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #6

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

The Myths of Competition

  • In non-profit arts organizations there is fierce competition for audience… competing with each other and with VCRs, sporting events, movies and school functions.
  • In non-profit social services organizations, there is enough need to keep everyone busy. It’s imperative that social services keep track of their community’s needs and work together to split up the pie and share resources.

The Myth of the Fixed Pot

  • Looking for a pot of money?
  • The myth that there is just so much to go around has left non-profits to fight each other.
  • There are so many non-profits out there asking. How can we compete?
  • The pot is not fixed. 40% of people feel they do not give enough. The reason? They are not asked.


  • People who give to non-profits generally have a variety of issues they care about. Very few give to just one issue.
  • The reasons donors stop giving to a non-profit is that they lose their shirts in the stock market, lose confidence in the non-profit’s ability to do what it did when they first invested, or they are not appreciated.
  • You must keep doing what you do… better and better! Thank your donors! If you don’t, they will go away.

There is plenty of room for excellence in fundraising.

  • Yes, it is incredibly hard, time-consuming and scary… and it will succeed directly in proportion to the seriousness of the commitment of the organization’s Board, staff and volunteers!
  • Folks who offer to get involved but refuse to take action will be of moderate service to your organization.
  • When you hear, “I’ll try” from your board colleagues, keep in mind that the words, “I’ll try” do not belong in fundraising.
  • Do it or don’t.

Why people give:

  1. Belief in the cause
  2. Peer pressure
  3. Good for business
  4. To give back for services received
  5. To change the world
  6. Fun to come to an event
  7. Status, ego
  8. Recognition
  9. Feels good
  10. Tax deduction
  11. To build community
  12. Guilt
  13. To make a difference.
  14. And the list goes on.. and all of these motives are valid.

AND, the most important motive?

  • I was asked!
  • The right person has to ASK the right person for the right amount at the right time.
  • That’s all there is. Special events, direct mail, membership drives… all window dressing.

The ASK is the heart of fundraising!

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #7

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

What do people want in return for their gift?

  1. First and foremost, they want their need to contribute met.
  2. The sense that their gift made a difference, knowing what their money will do.
  3. Ongoing involvement, communication, thank you letter, recognition, participation.

Whose job is it?

  • Fundraising cannot be done by one person, no matter who that person is. One person can be in charge, organizing and motivating others.
  • Ideal staffing for non-profit fundraising is, quite simply, EVERYONE! Board, staff and community volunteers.
  • The ideal situation is called “AGREEMENT TO FUNDRAISE” … everyone commits to doing their part.
  • The Fundraising Plan is drafted by the person with the most experience in fundraising, it is hashed out with staff, refined and presented to the board.
  • It is the Board’s opportunity to find, one by one, where they fit in the Plan, and roll up their sleeves for the task.

Making Your Case. Attracting Donors.

  • Learn how to talk about the work you do in human terms…. As compared to the writing done for grants and agency reporting, something like, “March was an exciting month for us…  …”
  • Not just your mission and goals.
  • It must come from your heart and leave the listener or reader with a vivid picture of how you are affecting lives of the people in your community.
  • Writing a descriptive case statement helps you explain what your organization does for people, how you change lives, what difference you are making in the community, why people are involved, who they bring with them.
  • Tell your story!

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #8

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

How to use direct mail to build a community base.

  • Make a great list.
  • Do NOT use the phone book or lists of people who bought BMWs last year.
  • Share lists with an organization with a donor or membership list likely to be sympathetic with your issues/programs.

A great list:

  1. You have reason to believe that the people on the list might like to know what you are doing, care about your cause or issue, and might be moved to give money.
  2. The list does not contain too many present donors or expired addresses.


  • A great letter.
  • A response device so donors can tell you about themselves and indicate the size of their gift.
  • A return envelope for the check or pledge.
  • And… in addition, a brochure, news clippings.


  1. Short and sweet.. people are busy. Get to the point. Say what you want.
  2. What you want is money… a check or a pledge. Say the amount. “Your $25 will …….”
  3. Do not take an organizational crisis out into the community. If you cannot meet payroll, you should not be attempting direct mail in the first place.  Don’t hide your crisis, or lie about it, but donors deserve the truth. Donors making an investment in your organization have heard pleas for help too many times, wondering why you are cutting it so close, whether you know how to manage money, and why you can’t run your organization like a business.


  1. Make it simple.
  2. Name, address. Space to fill in with optional information.
  3. Suggested amounts with boxes to check off.


  1. Pay the postage for donors.
  2. The expensive way is to put a first class stamp on every envelope.
  3. Less expensive is to secure a Business Reply Permit and you will pay only for envelopes returned… but each piece will cost more than the first class stamp.
  4. A nice touch… ask the donor to add a stamp and save your organization the ___ cents.
  5. An example… a letter with the top left corner chopped or torn off… the first line reading, “We’ve cut every corner we can, and now we’re coming to you.”  This approach, however, does take a crisis to the public.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #9

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

How to conduct a membership / fundraising drive.

  • A volunteer-intensive effort to reach potential donors through direct personal contact.
  • Not a direct mail campaign, not a phonathon.
  • Volunteers will solicit their friends, families and co-workers in person.
  • Face-to-face solicitation is the most effective way to raise money.
  • It is also the cheapest.

Setting your goal.

  • Can you name 100 people who can raise $100 each?
  • Ten people who can raise $500 each?
  • Judge your capabilities realistically.

Meeting your goal.

  • Fundraising drives may last up to six weeks, or be as short as 48 hours.
  • Everyone will complain that they didn’t have enough time.
  • 60% of the money will come in during the last few minutes of the campaign.
  • Volunteers can meet their goal any way they want… soliciting co-workers, calling friends, writing notes to acquaintances.

Recruiting and training fundraising volunteers.

  • Identify volunteers who will follow through.
  • They must know everything that is expected of them. Be realistic.
  • The more realistic you can be with your expectations, the more likely they will be to bow out if it is not for them or sign on with full knowledge of what they will need to do.
  • Write a job description … what you want the volunteer to do!

Job description for the fundraising volunteer:

  1. Write a check. It is very difficult to ask someone to do something that you yourself are not willing to do. The first dollar commitments should come from your fundraising volunteers… your board, members, other volunteers.
  2. Meet their goal. Everyone has to commit to the goal.
  3. Get trained. This is not negotiable. Give each fundraising volunteer a packet of information, brainstorm about who they will ask and give them an easy-to-remember description of what your organization does and why.
  4. Understand and use the packet of information. Financial statements, brochures, membership applications, copies of news clippings, list of Board members, a brief history… anything relevant that will help them answer questions.
  5. Attend. Launch your campaign with a kick-off party. Celebrate with a victory party.

Publicizing your fundraising drive.

  • Public service announcements and news releases are never done to bring in donors.
  • People raise money.

PR for your campaign keeps the volunteers excited and reminds them that they are involved in a wonderful activity!

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #10

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

A few notes on

Special Events

  • A need for celebration, affirmation and just silly fun in our oh-so-serious lives!
  • Done right, special events are a lot of fun!
  • It can be your gift to the community, a time to put aside everyday matters, to show support
  1. Review your fundraising plan!
  2. What place to events have in your plan?
  3. Maximum, 2 events per year.
  4. Know exactly why you are doing the event, set clear goals, choose your event and get help.
  5. Rule of thumb: be able to name 50% of your guests, have a good community base and an indication of broad-based interest and support.
  6. Do you really have agreement to do the event? Is this a Board event, not a staff event? Is the Board 100% committed to doing it. Each having agreed to take a major chunk of the work, to be available  for x hours for x weeks?  Is the Board going to bring their friends, spend money appropriately?
  7. Do you have enough enthusiastic core volunteers?
  8. Do you have the money to meet pre-event expenses?

Choose your event:

  • House Social
  • Public Party
  • Theme/Extravaganza


  • Realistic, even generous.
  • The cost of EVERYTHING, even if you are working on sponsorships.
  • Include all the details that you can predict: insurance, extra hires, invitations, hall rental, staff costs.
  • Set revenue goals that will stretch but not dismay your volunteers.
  • Make sure everyone agrees on the general budget bottom line, knowing that line items may change.

Choose a team…

  • One person in charge of the event who knows, but does not do, everything.
  • To be named chairperson of this event is an honor, a prize. If you have to beg, you are asking the wrong person.
  • Look at the tasks, write job descriptions for each one, include deadlines, lines of communication, expectations, limitations and rules.
  • Be very clear about what you want your team to do.
  • Honor your volunteers for their successes… loud and clear!

Underwriting and sponsorship:

  • You should have a cash sponsorship program so businesses, corporations, interest groups and individuals can give you money in return for mention in or during your program. This is your absolute best way to make money on an event.
  • Underwriting is a fancy way to describe a cash gift that is earmarked to fund one piece of your event…. Printing, transportation, sound system, musicians, etc.
  • Name early sponsors and underwriters on the invitation.
  • Spend money on a post-event display ad in the paper recognizing donors.

Selling tickets.

  • Advertising does not sell tickets. Great ideas do not sell tickets. ONLY PEOPLE SELL TICKETS!
  • Encourage every Board member, volunteer and staff person to invite a group of friends who will sit at their table and participate together in some way.
  • Everyone in your organization, EVERYONE, is expected to sell tickets.


  • Write a really good thank you letter.
  • Thank donors as graciously and as specifically as you solicited them. Use some humor, a light touch.
  • Ask your entire organizational family to support the businesses which supported you!


  • How much money did we make?
  • How did we make it? Why?
  • What worked? What didn’t?
  • Evaluate the event right away… do the numbers, take stock. Your record keeping has to be impeccable.

Ask yourselves:

  1. Who supported our event?
  2. Who bought tickets? Who actually came?
  3. Did we meet our attendance and income goals?
  4. How well was our event organized? Did our organizational structure work?
  5. Who actually did the work?
  6. How much did the event cost?
  7. How much did it cost if staff/volunteer time is factored in?
  8. What went right with each part of our event? What went wrong?
  9. Was it worth it?

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #11

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

How to work with the Media:

  • Submit news stories, regular press releases and Public Service Announcements [PSAs] in the proper format to announce all the great things you are doing.
  • Invite media personnel to serve on your board or chair the PR committee for a year. Give them a chance to help out with your event or program… cook the pancakes, ride along with Meals on Wheels.
  • Write your own feature stories … complete with great black and white photographs and offer them to weekly newspapers looking for stories as fillers.
  • Develop your own news release list: print, radio and cable.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #12

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan. [This book is one of many offered at no cost to Ford Institute Leadership Program participants!] 

Working with Volunteers.

  • More than one in four people over the age of 13 volunteer.
  • More than 70% are willing to volunteer.
  • Volunteers in programs and fundraising keep organizations cost-effective and alive!
  • 1/3 of your volunteers are leaders and will take initiative and get things done.
  • 1/3 are good followers and will carry on very well, given good leadership.
  • 1/3 are flakes  and will never follow through no matter what.
  • Honor your volunteers for their accomplishments, and by having your act together in terms of planning, materials and leadership.

Find your volunteers!

  • Decide what you want volunteers to do.
  • Recruit among your board, staff and current volunteers, then broaden your approach.
  • Advertise in the classifieds, get the word out.

Use them well!

  • Offer a gracious, sincere interest in your volunteers.
  • Provide a full job description – exactly what the task is, when it must be done, budget and lines of authority – and appropriate training.
  • Share your expectations honestly.
  • Offer a volunteer packet… a bunch of stuff they will need… event/campaign/activity description, timeline, letter of introduction to prospective donors, job description, committee/board lists, organization brochure… and a hearty thank you.
  • Have you chosen volunteers who already know how to throw a great party, speak in front of groups or write great letters?
  • Does everyone have a job description?
  • Do they know how their jobs fit in the big picture?
  • Have they agreed to do that job?
  • Is there  a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Do you have all the information you need from the volunteer… and for the volunteer?
  • Are there clear lines of authority?
  • How will you honor your volunteers?

You may, indeed, have to fire one of them!

  • In fact, you must fire them if they are not doing their job!
  • It’s about raising money for your valuable work to carry on… not about abandoning professionalism because someone’s feelings might get hurt.
  • First try to find out what’s wrong… what information might fix the problem, set some mini-deadlines for the volunteer to meet and check with him/her often to see how it’s going.
  • If it’s still not working out,  thank them for their effort and gently but clearly take the task away and give it to someone else. The volunteer is likely to be relieved rather than angry.
  • People like to belong to a group in which everyone pulls his or her own weight, with an activity that is exciting and moving in the right direction and where everyone feels utterly appreciated. This won’t happen if some folks work and others are let off the hook for whatever reason. You compromise the integrity of the group, and once that happens you’ll see the fabric of commitment and energy start to unravel.

The Famous Six Steps of a Project!

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Panic
  4. Search for the guilty
  5. Punishment of the innocent
  6. Praise and honors for the nonparticipants.

Thank them!

  • Reward your three types of volunteers accordingly …
    • 1/3 of your volunteers are leaders and will take initiative and get things done.
    • 1/3 are good followers and will carry on very well, given good leadership.
    • 1/3 are flakes  and will never follow through no matter what.
  • Leaders. In addition to warm formal and informal letters, mementos and public kudos… thank your leader volunteers personally… at a board meeting, annual meeting or an open house. Write feature stories for the local newspaper. Do something special! Ask your leaders to join the Board. It’s always a compliment to be offered a bigger job with more responsibility.
  • Followers. Most are reliable worker bees, the ones who pick up the flowers, assemble activity materials, and go with someone to ask for money. They deserve to be thanked and rewarded for the work they do, right along with their leaders.
  • Deadwood. Thank them with a letter for offering to help. Do not credit them with any activity for which they volunteered but did not work. Add their name to the list: People Never to be Trusted with Responsibility Again.

Volunteer recognition parties.

  1. Formal or informal, a gathering or luncheon.
  2. ALWAYS WRITE THANK YOU NOTES (hand-written, personal… as well as formal letters from the Board) to your volunteers.
  3. Always thank them publicly… in your newsletter or display ad in the local paper.

Give them a small memento to remind them of your organization and appreciation.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #13

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

Working with Foundations.

  • A foundation is a tax exempt organization set up to give money away.
  • The foundation develops criteria for giving it away.
  • You can learn all about foundations at your local library.
  • [Sherman County Public/School Library and the Commission on Children and Families have copies of the Oregon Foundation DataBook.]

So you want to get a grant?

There are several problems with using foundation grant-writing as your primary fundraising strategy.

  1. Of all the money given in a single year by corporations, individuals, foundations and through bequests, foundation giving accounts for only about 5%. Corporate giving is another 5%, bequests 10%, and individual giving accounts for the remaining 80%.
  2. Foundations like new, start-up programs or special projects, and generally will not fund on-going operating costs. They want to know how you will sustain a project once they fund it.
  3. The current success rate (1990) for grants is about 7%. … … 93% of grant applications are turned down. The primary reason is that nonprofits take a shot-gun approach to grant-writing. They write “the definitive grant” asking for $50,000, copy it and send it to every foundation in the book. Wrong!
  4. Research, matching the foundation to your mission and geographic location, is the key. Each request must be tailored to the particular focus of the foundation you are approaching.
  5. The longer you rely on grants and ignore building your base of individual donors, the more project-oriented and dependent you will be.
  6. Good research takes time and is on-going.

Grant writing.

  • Grant writing is un-necessarily mystified.
  • Every foundation requires a slightly different approach.
  • Read the guidelines and follow them… to the letter.
  • Use descriptive phrases.
  • Avoid buzz words and phrases used in government grant applications, and make a list of buzz words that fit your organization (instead of units of service, say patients in our clinic).
  • Do not assume that funders understand the importance of what you do!
  • Get as much grant-writing training as you can.

How to approach a foundation.

  • Begin with exhaustive research!
  • Know what the foundation will fund, how much their average grant is, how to approach them, who else they fund.
  • If the foundation is staffed and open to receiving phone calls, by all means call them. Tell them what you have in mind and see if it seems fundable.
  • Go see them… or meet them at the occasional fundraising event.
  • Follow their guidelines! Send them what they want. If they request your by-laws, send them. Don’t make them call you.
  • A fine, well-thought-out presentation makes a difference… pleasant to look at, with photographs, graphs, art work as appropriate. Not too slick.
  • You must make a great case for need and your ability to spend it well.
  • Avoid: video tapes unless requested, tiny print, spelling errors, confusing financial data, too many words, trying to make it sound like more than it is, trying to take a need for operating monies and making it sound like a new and exciting project, and hiding the request in text.
  • Avoid assuming that they know what you do. Spell it out… what services or performances you gave last year and what you intend to do this year.
  • Remember to thank them! Send them your wonderful newsletter, keep them on your mailing list and treat them like major donors. They are!

Evaluation of Success.

  • Question on the grant application: How will you evaluate the success of this project?
  • This is a wonderful opportunity for your organization to check in with the community to make sure you really are meeting a need.
  • How do you know you are meeting a community need?
  • If your organization is a 501(c)(3), you have an obligation as a citizen of the community you are serving to make that community a better place. If society gives you dispensation from taxes, it is because you are performing a service that the community needs. Not the service the audience or patient needs, but community.
  • Every 3-4 years, get out into the community and find out if you are really meeting a need. What can an arts organization do for the community besides sing and dance? They can educate children, adults, local politicians about the importance of the arts in the community, network with other organizations to make sure they are all relevant, efficient and of high quality; they can serve on other non-profit boards to ensure that the arts are present in other organizations, teach classes and encourage young artists with auditions, talent contests and scholarships. What can the local day care center do for the community? Take care of the community’s children, of course… and lobby for day care in business and with politicians, create networking systems to educate parents, serve on PTA boards, educate the public, provide emergency respite for mothers.
  • Talk to former volunteers and members, teachers, police, organizations working with the same audience, the media, employers. Find out what they think about your organization’s programs, what they know about the issues and what could be done better.
  • “But we don’t have time to do all of this.”  It is about priorities. We all have the same 24-hour day.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #14

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

Working with corporations.


  • How do non-profit people feel about corporate people?
  • Our attitudes set the stage for the relationship.
  • Corporation employees are under pressure to make money for the corporation, the stockholders and themselves. Corporations are FOR-profits.


  • Do we want to set up a partnership with a corporation? If not, why not?
  • What can we offer a corporation in terms of exposure in return for their gift? Program ad space? Their name on our van?
  • How does our work and the work of local for-profit businesses complement each other?
  • What does the corporation want or need?
  • Join the chamber of commerce… this is where business people do business and networking.
  • A loaned corporate executive could assist with your long-range plan, solicit for a funding campaign, set up your fundraising software and develop staff benefit packages.
  • Some corporations have charitable foundations.

Notes from Fundraising for Non-profits, #15

Fundraising for Non-profits: How to build a Community Partnership by P. Burke Keegan.

The Board of Directors & Fundraising

Board Responsibilities:

  • Do boards have to do fundraising?
  • Do you need money?
  • If you need money, that is the Board’s problem.
  • Non-profit boards are usually a group of volunteers who sign on to guide the organization’s development. They struggle with finances, policies and supervision.
  • But mostly, it seems, they struggle with who they are and what it means to be a Board Member.

When a Board is functioning excellently:

  • It enjoys 100% attendance and 100% giving.
  • Every member raises money.
  • They have a team spirit that challenges every member to perform to the absolute best of his or her ability.
  • It has committees that answer specific needs, get their work done and report to the Board.
  • It lives in the future, guiding the organization forward, empowering professional staff, paid or unpaid, to handle the day to day operations.
  • It gives quality thought to the issues of planning and Board regeneration.
  • Members thank each other, trust each other, and get to grow in the areas of leadership development and community relations.

Getting to excellence requires:

  • Taking one deliberate step at a time
  • Starting with the best possible mix of people and an understanding that serving on your Board is an honor and privilege.

The Board’s Five Areas of Responsibility.

  1. POLICY. They set policy.
  • This means taking a broad brush and making a stroke.
  • They must answer the question: What will happen for what people at what cost?
  • Set the parameters within which the staff can work.
  • They must respond to the community need, the Mission and goals of the organization.
  • They look at the scope of need and decide how much can be accomplished.
  1. HIRE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (paid or unpaid).
  • The executive director, paid or unpaid, serves at the pleasure of the Board.
  • A professional who sees to the day-to-day operation of the organization and answers to the Board for decisions made.
  • Salary has nothing to do with this relationship.
  • The executive director tends to the details, hires other staff and makes sure that the policies of the board are carried out.
  • The executive director can be fired for not doing the job and the board can find someone who will do a better job, but they do not have the option of going in and doing the work themselves.
  • This responsibility is often taken very lightly.
  • Boards are legally responsible for decisions made by them and their staff.
  • The Board of Directors has a legal and moral obligation to the community to know what is going on in the non-profit they are directing.
  • Evaluation is much more than reading the executive director’s report in Board meetings, much more than looking at the treasurer’s report.
  • It means teaching every Board member what the organization is supposed to be doing, showing them what the books look like, and giving them a chance to see for themselves.
  • It could be evaluation teams that talk with the executive director on a quarterly basis, asking questions, looking at the books, and asking people in the community if they’re happy that the non-profit is there.
  • The Board should be talking with like organizations in other parts of the country to see what’s being tried and how it’s going.
  • Board members are the organization’s ambassadors… at political and social functions, at work.
  • People in the community will judge your organization by the quality, standing and dedication of your vocal Board members.
  • Board members should have the organization brochure and business cards with the official logo, name and address of the non-profit and their name and title.
  • Board members must be well-informed about the mission and goals of the organization.
  • It is the board’s responsibility to give and raise money. There is not a sentence in our language that will make a room full of Board members dig in their heels deeper than that one.
  • The best reasons for giving and raising money:
    • The board sets policy and decides what is going to happen for what people at what cost. If they are not raising the money to make it happen, they are creating an impossible situation.
    • Major donors, corporate givers and foundations are increasingly adamant about not giving until you have 100% giving from your Board members. Foundations often require a list of Board members and how much they give. If your own Board won’t give, you cannot expect anyone else to give. Until everyone on your Board is giving to the best of their ability, you have no business fundraising in the community.
    • Board members should give until it feels really good! For some, it’s $25, for others it’s $25,000. Everyone can give something.
    • The phone company does not accept “time” instead of money. Board members are expected to give their “time” AND money.  It is very difficult to ask someone else to do something you are not willing to do.
    • Writing a check is an important part of real commitment. It’s called, “putting your money where your mouth is.”
    • Once your Board members have their own money committed to the organization, they’ve bought in. It’s theirs. One Board member might assume responsibility… once a year stand up and say, “It’s that time again. If I don’t have your check or pledge by the end of the week, I will call you and talk about your gift.” It helps if this person is good at follow-through, and it helps if this person is someone that Board members would rather not have to deal with in person.
    • Board members should be required to pay the membership fee and make a gift on top of that and their time.

Board Development.

  1. A key tool for a strong, functional board is the nominating process. Term lengths are spelled out in the by-laws. If there are term limits, and they are enforced, then everyone moves on when their term expires with gracious exits and no hurt feelings. Some boards offer a time off the board and an opportunity to serve again.
  2. Hurt feelings are, in fact, a mine field, and more than one non-profit has blown itself up there. The fear of hurting people’s feelings makes organizations hang on to destructive volunteers or make convoluted plans based on whose feelings are in the way, effectively stopping forward progress while a fragile ego is being cared for.
  3. Your mission statement does not include sacrificing the health and well-being of your organization to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
  4. If you have to step on someone’s toes, say you’re sorry but keep moving forward.
  5. Moving people out is part one.
  6. Moving people in is part two. Finding the right people is an on-going process that requires an active, inventive, energetic nominating committee.

The Nominating Committee should:

  • Meet year-round.
  • Work from the long-range plan to identify skills that will be needed in the coming years.
  • Be the best and brightest of the group.
  • Be willing to literally cold call, interview and keep track of potential Board members.
  • Be enthusiastic, positive and honest about the organization.
  • Be ad hoc, with everyone on the Board getting a chance to rotate through.
  • Include the Director of Development as a full-fledged member.
  • Build a waiting list for Board membership that the Board will use to choose new members when terms expire.

The Nominating Committee does not invite anyone to be on the Board. That is the responsibility and privilege of the entire Board.

How to build a Board waiting list:

  1. A list of people who have been interviewed by the nominating committee and who have clearly stated their interest in serving on the Board at a future date.
  2. Their skills and interests are noted.
  3. It allows the nominating committee to interview people without having to commit to asking them to serve.
  4. It serves to keep the Board on their toes…  we’ve all heard, “I would resign, but I don’t want to leave them in the lurch.” There are people waiting to sit in their seat.
  5. The waiting list energizes the organization. Rather than taking the “warm body” approach to Board development, the waiting list process is a constant reminder.

What specialties, skills or interests does the Board need?

  • Fundraising
  • Governance/leadership
  • School liaison
  • Business, merchant/mover and shaker
  • Connections to a PR firm
  • A visionary, futurist
  • High profile educator
  • Local politician

The Nominating Committee will approach the prospects, describe the organization and the nominating process, and what is expected of Board members, and make it clear they are not appointing to the Board. Make an interview appointment. Be totally honest. How much time is required? Other tasks? What skills are needed?

Welcoming new board talent.

  • Give them the opportunity to hit the ground running.
  • Recruit them for a specific reason and work with them to set their information, contacts and ideas directly into motion.
  • Try the buddy system… new Board member with a seasoned veteran, riding to and from meetings together, sitting together at meetings.  Make it clear there are no stupid questions.
  • Provide a Board member orientation, on-going training and yearly retreats.
  • Some organizations require Board members to attend the volunteer training so they have a hands-on sense of how the programs work.
  • Retreats offer time for reviewing and modifying the long-range plan, recommitting to goals and carrying on the organizational story. Hire an outside facilitator or assign skilled Board members to each lead sections of the retreat agenda.

Boards and Leadership:

  • People change because they want to or need to. We cannot change others.
  • When a Board has functioned by letting people off the hook, never enforcing bylaws and policies, and asking nothing more than attendance at meetings, it is a huge task to NOW ask them to WORK.
  • It is even harder to ask them to take responsibility for their planning and go out and find the money to make the plans happen.
  • The key ingredient for this kind of formidable movement is leadership.

A leader is someone who can:

  • Inspire people to do what the leader knows needs to be done.
  • Overcome his or her fear of not being liked to say what needs to be said.
  • Hold people to their word, remind them of their commitment and move them to act by setting a great example.
  • Give 30 hours to a project if he wants others to give 10.
  • Build a team and move them forward, a very selfless act, requiring the leader to put aside personal agendas and ego and act for the good of the organization.
  • Run a good meeting, bringing together the chemistry of the Board members to create something new and make important decisions, always starting and ending on time, setting a pace to keep the show on the road. No meetings over 90 minutes.
  • Does not ask people to meet to discuss anything that they cannot take action on.

A Board can:

  • Establish a long-range plan, goals and objectives.
  • Develop 11 or 12 agendas for the coming year
  • Get to the work at hand, pull back and see what they need to learn and where the organization needs to grow.
  • Focus on specific responsibilities of the Board.


  • Establish a strong committee structure.
  • Eliminate the Fundraising Committee. Most of them were not there when they were appointed, hated the idea of asking for money.
  • An ad hoc approach helps create a more participatory atmosphere of problem solving. An attitude develops… this is how things work here… with a Board of people who wouldn’t dream of coming to a Board meeting and confessing, “I didn’t follow through.”

Living in the Future:

  • The Board’s job is to live in the future. The wheels are rolling slowly forward and the Board is usually running along behind.  Where the Board should be in out in front, having determined where the organization should be going, where it needs to be in 5 and 10 years, and they have hired a professional to run the organization day to day.
  • When your organization is given tax-exempt status, this means that it holds a special place in the fabric of your community. It exists to meet a need or solve a problem. That is how we are different from for-profit businesses.
  • The Board is the keeper of the Vision. This includes creating a viable plan, recruiting and challenging the absolute best team of Board members and continually making sure your organization is meeting the Mission.

Two-Step Program to Fundraising:

  1. Get over it.
  2. Get on with it.

[That’s it, the last chapter. ~ Notes by Sherry Kaseberg.]