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From an Expert: Taking the Stress Out of Fundraising


Fundraising can be a daunting task.  It can be one of the most challenging fields to work in, but also one of the most rewarding. If you believe in the cause and keep your focus then any reputable organization can fundraise effectively. 

As a grant maker, I’m often approached by different organizations requesting funding for various purposes. Below are some tips I’ve discovered that can help take the stress out of fundraising:

1. Fundraising is a lot like dating. Get to know them first. What are their interests? What are their passions? They may not line up with yours, and that?s ok. They are as passionate about giving to a certain cause(s) as you are about serving for one — and you wouldn?t want them asking you to change your mission so don?t expect them to do likewise.

Key takeaway: Don’t rush the process, it takes time to determine if there is a good match.

2. Do your homework. It?s helpful to get inside the mind of a grant maker; to understand what they need to make a quality decision. Any good foundation or philanthropist is focused on certain focal areas such as education, community development, or the environment to name a few. Some foundations are often limited geographically and only serve the communities where they house their offices or headquarters. So do your homework long before you even apply and never take a shot gun approach to asking.  It will not only save the foundation’s time and efforts but save you time and effort as well. 

Key takeaway: Find common ground by focusing on donors  that are share a common focus or mission. 

3. Don’t be afraid to ask. This is often the biggest fear of nonprofit fundraisers. Foundations don’t know everything in their philanthropic area and want to meet with organizations to learn more about their work. Remember they are in the business of helping too!

Organizations might view the relationship with a donor as a one-way street, but without organizations there would be no need for foundations, so they need you too! That doesn’t mean you’ll be funded for every request, but there is always a mutual relationship between the two sides. Foundations and experienced donors know the amount of work and effort required to start an organization and make it effective. Making the ask can be difficult, but only if you see it as simply asking for funds rather than asking for an investment.

Key takeaway: Don?t take it personally or feel rejected if someone says ?no?. It?s just not the right match or not the right time for them to support you. Respect their decision.

4. Collaborate & Network. Be sure to take advantage of resources and trainings that are available for free or at a minimal cost. Not only do they provide direction and guidance but they are great for connecting with other like-minded individuals. It seems like the nonprofit field can operate in a bubble. Get out and meet others doing the same thing you are. The results made through connections can be as beneficial as the course material itself.

Key Takeaway: The nonprofit sector could use more partnerships and relationships with each other, even if they are informal ones.  

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Rich Schofield is the founder of Flashpoint Fund, which works to help nonprofits improve their performance and better serve the Richmond community through capactiy grants and other resources. 

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