“Every fundraiser has that moment when they ask themselves: where do I start? During those times, I have reached for the one proven tool that has helped me to overcome uncertainty: a written fundraising strategy.”
As a fundraising strategist, Pamela Sutton-Legaud has helped raise more than $150 million for Australian nonprofits working with Oxfam, Plan International, Bush Heritage and Zoos Victoria and as a consultant with AskRIGHT.
She is now CEO of Homeward Bound a leadership initiative for women in STEMM, a councillor with Hobsons Bay City Council and a CFRE ambassador.
Bringing together her extensive experience and insight, Pamela has written The Fundraiser’s Handbook: Create A Winning Fundraising Strategy and Raise More Money.
Pamela’s book will guide you through the process of creating a fundraising strategy using a powerful but simple template.
F&P readers will get a 20% discount on the hard copy or e-book. Just email F&P’s fabulous Administration Manager, Anne at [email protected] to let her know you’d like a copy and she’ll sort you out.
And if you want a dive deep on fundraising strategy, we are excited to be collaborating on a webinar with Pamela on Tuesday 5 April. All attendees will receive a 20% discount on Pamela’s book and one lucky person will receive a free copy. Find out more about the webinar here.
To give you a taste, here is an excerpt from Pamela’s book outlining one of the four steps in preparing your fundraising strategy:
Excerpt from The Fundraiser’s Handbook: Create A Winning Fundraising Strategy and Raise More Money.
Step 3: Situation analysis
3.1 Where you are now
A situation analysis spells out where you are now. This is helpful for those who may read your strategy without knowing its context. It provides the reasons for the strategy and the challenges it hopes to address. It will help you in months to come when you look back on the strategy. In addition, by setting the scene in this way, you will help connect your current situation with your goals.
If you are updating an existing fundraising strategy, you can refer to previous documents or research you have used to get this far. You will likely want to improve on previous results; therefore, you can state those results and the conditions under which you are creating the new strategy.
This analysis doesn’t need to be long and you can add to it as more information becomes available. For now, we are just setting the scene for what comes next.
3.2 Why are you raising money? What needs will you meet?
These are the most fundamental questions you can ask yourself and your organisation. They go to the heart of why anyone should donate to you. It is worth remembering that people donate because an organisation meets needs and not because it has needs. It is not enough that your organisation needs help. You need to show them that their donation will help solve problems that the donor cares about.
Right now, you want to capture your cause as simply as possible. Here are a few examples:
- We want to build a school in Africa for children affected by HIV and AIDS.
- We want to extend our school’s sports grounds.
- We want to build a community swimming pool.
- We want to help children with impaired vision to see.
Your fundraising cause should be as clear as possible. If you know why you are fundraising, you can communicate more effectively with donors and motivate them to fund your vision.
3.3 What projects need funding?
To attract money from donors, you need to know what issues and needs you will address with their donations. For donors to give, they need to care about the projects you will complete and believe that you are the right organisation to complete them. The more specific you can be here, the better you will be at communicating your needs to potential donors.
Be donor-centric. Consider what your donor cares about—not just about what you want and need. Take the time to understand the project(s) for which you want to raise funds. This may seem obvious but it is worth delving into. If you want funds for a building, where will the building be located? How much will it cost to build? Do you already have the land or do you need to raise funds to buy that too? What is the purpose of the building and who will benefit from it? Or, if you want to raise funds to help a school in Africa, where specifically is the school? How many children attend the school? How will your funds help the school? Are you helping to build toilets or to buy books? When can the work start? When will it be completed?
“Every fundraiser has that moment when they ask themselves: where do I start? I’ve certainly had many of those moments in my fundraising career. During those times, I have reached for the one proven tool that has helped me to overcome uncertainty: a written fundraising strategy.”
3.4 What’s your Case for Support?
Your ‘reasons’ become your ‘Case for Support’. Your Case for Support captures and articulates why you are raising the money and how you will direct it to help your organisation’s cause.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term ‘making a case’ as to argue that something is the best thing to do; giving your reasons. In this instance, a Case for Support is how you will encourage and persuade prospective donors to support your cause. Your Case for Support is your best argument and evidence for your donors to consider. It is a description of your organisation’s vision for raising the funds it needs, and it is written in a way that motivates and inspires your donors to support your cause.
Ultimately, your Case for Support can take many forms (for example, a printed or digital brochure with photos or a video with testimonials and stories from beneficiaries). At this stage, you are capturing the essence of why you are raising money.
Your Case for Support will evolve as you gather new information or gain feedback from your donors. It is a document that you will share with internal and external stakeholders so they can see why you are fundraising. They can give feedback and help you refine it. With a strong and inspiring Case for Support, you can attract support for your cause.
3.5 Who are you and why should you be doing this work?
You will need to convince potential donors why your organisation should be doing this work, why this project should go ahead and how supporting it will make a difference to the world. Here you articulate the history of your organisation and the reasons for doing the work. You can use this material later to inform your Case for Support.
3.6 Who will implement the work on the ground?
Many organisations work in partnership with other organisations to implement projects. This can be the case for international aid agencies that raise money in ‘donor countries’ but complete the work in the countries where there is need. In order to do this, partners ‘on the ground’ (who will carry out the work) should be identified.
For the purposes of your fundraising strategy, you need to know how the partnership works (and that there is one in place) so you can be clear on who is doing the work and where the money will be spent.
3.7 How much will it cost to implement the work?
Fundraising is more effective when you know the costs of the project in advance so those costs can inform your fundraising strategy.
Whether you are raising money to cover the operating costs of your organisation or to fund specific projects, you need to know where the funds will be spent and how much the organisation really needs you to raise. A target of ‘lots of money’ is not a target at all. You need a context for your fundraising. Just hoping that you will raise enough is not going to help you create a clear fundraising strategy. How much will the organisation need to operate for three years? What expenses are covered by any government grants (and are they tied to particular outcomes)? Which projects can only go ahead with fundraising income?
3.8 Why should anyone support your cause?
This is an interesting question. If you are thinking that it’s obvious because your cause is very important … sorry, but it’s not obvious at all. You need to spell out why your cause is important. What needs are you meeting?
Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about your why:
- Competition: There are likely several organisations that do the same or similar work to you. How are you different? Why should a donor support you and not them?
- Outcomes: Can you show that you have or can deliver real outcomes for your constituency or beneficiaries? Outcomes are not the same as outputs. For example, an output is a plan and an outcome is the result of implementing the plan. You want to show that the object of your fundraising will be improved in some way by raising the money.
- Meaning: What does your cause mean to your donors? Can they relate to the work you do and the things you want to achieve? Can you connect the focus of your work with your donors’ values?
- Value: Can your donors see that you provide great value? How efficient is your organisation at delivering on its promises? Can you do it cheaper or quicker than others? Can you do it with less staff or less money? Can you do it with lower operating costs?
- Innovation: Are you doing things differently to others? Have you developed new technology or research that will deliver results in a new way? Can you help your donors understand why this innovation is important?
This information will inform your strategy and give you the content you need to create your fundraising assets.
To attend Pamela’s webinar on how to create a winning fundraising strategy register here!