Posted by danosky | Posted in The Philanthropy Therapist | Posted on 26-04-2012
Last week’s blog generated several comments about taking the long view. In a field predicated on relationships, only the long view makes sense; yet, there is another aspect when considering the long view. Have you created a sustainable organization?
Many non-profits start off with a bang. Funding might come from a founder, a few angels, and maybe there might be reimbursement from third-party funders, state agencies, and so forth; that does not mean it is sustainable. Several years down the road, those “reliable” sources dry up, and the organization finds itself at risk.
The most effective course of action is to invest in building a development program while you still have a reasonable source of funding. Development takes work, and it takes time. Relationships, by their very nature, take time to build. Furthermore, fundraising cycles function on an annual basis. Finding out that your funding is suddenly being cut and then deciding to build your fundraising efforts will not solve an immediate problem.
Today, we often talk about building capacity…foundations will even support capacity building, meaning they will fund your initial efforts to build an infrastructure and a plan that will sustain your organization.
A full-fledged plan has many components and should project revenue over several years. Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about building a development program:
1. Grants do not provide immediate support – it takes time to build a relationship with a funder and should not ever be considered an instant remedy.
2. Events are a mainstay of non-profit support, but they are not the venue through which to build sustainable donor relationships.
3. Building an annual fund does not mean sending out an annual letter. It is a year-long, renewable process of building donor support that will be there for the long-term.
4. Nothing is more effective than meeting with a donor face-to-face
5. Thank your donor often and communicate frequently. Let me say that again…thank your donor often and communicate frequently!
This all takes work, time, and effort, and there really is no shortcut.