Ten Conditions for Success in Fundraising

The Good Counsel

 A post By James V. Toscano

1. A Strong Vision/ Mission that articulates an appealing and attractive value proposition for those donors and prospects sharing similar values. Donors are attracted to Mission-driven organizations.

2. Program Quality. With all of the hoopla and buzz on other aspects of performance, quality still counts and separates the winners from the losers. Empirical markers of quality, such as outstanding inputs, processes, people and results clearly result in success and boost the potential for funding.

3. Board Leadership/ Management. Nothing beats an engaged, active, fundraising board and a committed director. Charisma helps, although solid leadership, hard work and focus are the keys to convincing funders that the organization is in good hands, works efficiently and effectively and will do the job, with all oars pulling. 

4. Planning/ Focus / Agility Knowing what comes next, and knowing what next year will probably look like are important in assuring donors of predictability. Sticking to the knitting by executing a realistic strategic plan, and then adhering to it through conforming operational plans makes sense. When the unpredictable event occurs, agility to overcome it and maintain plan direction cement the ties.5. Strong Case for Support. Flowing from the strong value proposition in Vision and Mission, a detailed and convincing case statement that makes a convincing argument for support solidifies resolve of funders. The case statement is the prospectus for investment, and a strong case sells the project.

6.   Constituency/ Allies/ Collaborators. Whether with your own donors and prospects, or in combination with those of others, a critical mass of constituents, those who share the organization’s values and are motivated to support its work, is always necessary. Building this base of support is essential to significant survival. 

 7.   Organization/Infrastructure/ Energetic, Dedicated Staff. Things just don’t happen. Results just don’t come about. In combination with all of the other items in this list, organization infrastructure and talented staff are essential to get the job done. Nothing happens until these elements are in place, and need to be done very well.

8.   Public Visibility/ Name Recognition / Communication. First, however, prospects and potential funders have to hear about the organization; in fact most studies show that they have to hear favorably about an organization on multiple occasions, or have a trusted person confirm their impressions, before most give their first gift. The communication then has to increase and reinforce ties, not the opposite. Using a reasonable schedule, donors should be regularly informed and told how much they are needed.

9. Transparency and Accountability. Keeping all of the doors and windows open, letting in all of the questions and answering them, keeps donors trust and attracts others.  Trust is the most important of the variables in retaining donors.

10. Impacts: Knowledge, Research, Know-How, Improvements, Education, Service…Results. In other words, through evaluation and outcomes reporting, donors have to see how the product of all of the inputs, processes, resources (including their own) and people impact on the larger society and make some type of difference.

Copyright 2012 The Good Counsel, division of Toscano Advisors, LLC. May be duplicated with citation.

  1. […] 2.  Effective, experienced personnel with long tenure led by an executive with vision-both short and long-term. Such leadership involves encouragement of learning, staff training, sabbaticals, organizational development and continuous quality improvement. (See my  article on the Ten Conditions for Success in Fundraising.) […]

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