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A fundraising toolkit. Bonnie Osinski 6/27/11. Basic Assumptions. It’s not about the money Money is the means to an end The end is fulfilling your mission. Basic Assumptions. CIRCLES OF INFLUENCE The stronger the core; the more effective the organizations

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A fundraising toolkit

A fundraising toolkit

Bonnie Osinski 6/27/11

Basic assumptions
Basic Assumptions

It’s not about the money

Money is the means to an end

The end is fulfilling your mission

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Basic assumptions1
Basic Assumptions


  • The stronger the core; the more effective the organizations

  • All fundraising activities should be managed so they strengthen the core

  • The stronger the core; the stronger the message you can send

  • The further away from the core; the more expensive it is to fundraise

  • Public relations is directed at the outer core and should not be factored into direct fundraising expenses

  • Without good public relations and overall agency communications; the fundraiser has to spend more time working in the outer, more expensive rings

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

The board of directors
The Board of Directors

  • You will never reach your organization's full fundraising potential without a board that supports and participates in fundraising

  • All members give to the best of their ability and all support fundraising in some way

  • Leadership is sincerely and actively working to add board members who can support the organization’s fundraising.

  • The board and the chief development officer work together as a team

  • A CEO who discourages a strong board will hold the organization back (usually a founder)

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Basic assumptions2
Basic Assumptions

Where you get your money and what you have to do to get it has determines the nature and culture of your organization

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Types of support
Types Of Support


Donor specifies the use

If you accept the money, you are legally obligated to comply

Make sure the specified use is in line with your mission and strategic plan

Best to turn it down if it is not a fit

Only a donor can legally restrict contributed funds

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Types of support1
Types Of Support


  • The most desirable type of support

  • Enables you to be flexible and responsive to changing conditions and client needs

  • Your best bulwark against a turbulent, unpredictable environment

  • Virtually impossible to run a strong and effective organization without a high level of unrestricted support


  • Generally a sub-set of unrestricted

  • Can also be restricted funds for specific or one-time operating costs e.g. Computerization, financial systems, fundraising start-up costs

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Types of support2
Types Of Support


  • Construction, purchase of facility or renovation

  • Generally a campaign with specified goals and time limits


  • Best way to insure long-term financial health

  • Should be big enough to generate significant annual income

  • Can it be too big?

  • Less appealing campaign than bricks and mortar

  • Can be built with planned giving income, much of which cannot be projected in annual operating budgets

    Composed of donor restricted and quasi-restricted funds

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Reliability autonomy

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Contracts and grants

  • Really big money; often renewable over the long run

  • Political realities make it less stable that it appears

  • Lots of restrictions, paperwork, reporting

  • Can suppress the impetus to build an effective constituency

  • You can’t use government operating funds for fundraising

    The Process:

  • Following detailed instructions in lengthy and complex RFP’s

  • Funding agency tells you what they want

  • Proposals often voluminous

  • Complex budgeting process

  • Reporting and evaluation is different for each grant

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Creates and organizational culture that does not support private funding

  • Organization does not build a fundraising board; difficult to get support when moving to other funding sources.

  • Program culture that is reactive, looks to fulfill the requirement of the funding agency

  • Difficult to build projects for foundation proposals

  • Culture is not open to letting individual donors in

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Mostly restricted grants in their area of interest

  • Not meant to be an ongoing source of support

  • Grants much smaller than government; paperwork less onerous

  • Lack of contacts should not discourage application; valuable relationships can build once a grant is awarded

  • Potential for flexibility in project design within guidelines


  • Creativity to develop & implement projects that meet your needs and funder’s priorities

  • Building relationships with program officers over time

  • Plan to leverage time limited grants for future benefit – capacity building; success story for other donors; learning that will inform programs

  • Research to find a match

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Short term, mostly restricted, grants create management challenges that have to be offset by other funding sources

  • Small size of most awards can require a patchwork of grants to support a project

  • The process of project development that goes into creating a proposal that works for the funder as well as the grantee fosters valuable management skills.

    • Differentiating between outcomes and process

    • Defining the need

    • Evaluating results

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Corporate self-interest is key

  • Source of financial, in-kind, sponsorship, matching and volunteer support

  • Partnership and joint marketing possibilities

  • Renting your good name; Compatibility; Seeking connections with your constituency

  • Excellent source of board members

  • Multiple entry points and interests possible within the same corporation


  • Can be very similar to foundation grantsmanship

  • The more contacts, the better –board networks important

  • Research is different from foundation research

  • Developing joint marketing and sponsorships can involve complex negotiations

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Greater visibility

  • Opportunity to build relationships with potential major donors and board members

  • Responsive to a constituency that is very different from government and foundation funders

  • Building the skill and culture that supports making the markets/capitalism work for you

  • Requires board members who can make connections and support the effort

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Source of more than 80% of all philanthropic funds

  • Your best bet for long-term strength and survival; reliable insurance against fluctuations other funding sources

  • Investors; advocates for your cause – your power base

  • Best source of ongoing, unrestricted funds

  • Only source of planned gifts; best way to build endowment

  • Most cost effective at major gift levels


  • Research essential

  • Requires ongoing maintenance of relationships and stewardship

  • Best returns come after years of cultivation.

  • Direct mail for general donors – entry way for major donors – expensive start-up

  • On-line email and social networking present cost-effective options

  • Events can bring in some new donors; reinforce & cultivate others

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Parallel to taking a private company public

  • Open to a new kind of scrutiny

  • Taking donors to higher levels of giving requires giving them opportunities for greater involvement with the organization

  • Effects are felt throughout the organization

  • Requires board members who can make connections and support the process

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



It’s not about the money

It’s all about relationships

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  • Costly form of fundraising; staff time required is often underestimated

  • Can be good for building visibility

  • Means for volunteer support and involvement; opportunity for donor cultivation

  • Can bring in some new donors

  • Can build a constituency that is loyal to the event, rather than the organization or it’s mission


  • Determine level of substantial support from board members and current supporters- more than 50% of gross revenue required

  • Consultants well worth it for large events; free staff to focus on donor cultivation and solicitation

  • You are not selling tickets

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Can be a very reliable support of annual cash income

  • A successful mass mail program usually loses money for the first three years; Pays off when a critical mass of repeat donors is reached

  • Becoming more costly as postage and other costs increase

  • Entry point for major and planned gift donors

  • Not all organizations or causes can be successful in the mail

  • Consider starting an in-house mailing program with contacts generated by board staff, and other supporters


  • Get professional help to develop competitive text and graphics – even for in-house or donor renewal mailings

  • Don’t even think about donor acquisition – renting lists – without hiring a professional direct mail consultant

  • You must mail several times a year to be successful

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



Most effective way to raise the largest gifts and the lowest cost

Requires time and effort to cultivate and upgrade donors

Research and moves-management essential

Very strong advocates and solicitors

Board must be intensely involved

Best indicator of long-term organizational strength


  • Regularly mine general donor lists from direct mail, events, on-line, etc. for major gift prospects

  • Research is important

  • Contacts from board members and other major donors

  • Continuous cultivation and stewardship required

  • Determine and respond to donor’s interest in becoming more involved

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

The ask
The Ask

The right solicitor asking the right prospect for the right amount of money for the right reason at the right time

  • 10% of the major gift fundraising process

  • The result of long term cultivation

  • Not a single event

  • Most of the time – the result of teamwork

  • Many sources of training and literature to help build skills

  • Misused measures – annual revenue goals – individual staff credit

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • The desired, ultimate result of individual giving programs

  • Not limited to major donors

  • Gifts made from assets, not income

  • Require long-term planning on the part of the donor, preferably with the help of a financial planner or attorney

  • Bequests are the most common source; not the most beneficial for donors of substantial means

  • The ultimate payoff does not correspond to the costs incurred in a given year


  • Any organization can remind all donors about making bequests in newsletters, web sites, targeted mailings, etc.

  • Maintain awareness of the possibility of planned gifts as part of the major donor process

  • Stay on top of general tax law as it applies to philanthropy

  • Investing in outside expertise yields the best results

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Time-limited campaigns to reach specified goals

  • Requires existing supporters to make significantly larger gifts

  • Organization must be able to maintain annual giving income

  • Reaching the goal requires that at least 10% of income comes from one or two donors

  • Depends on an existing major donor base

  • Bricks and mortar tends to be more popular than endowment


  • Outside counsel is highly recommended; feasibility study can make a difference

  • Campaign chair and committees essential

  • Start bringing in lead gifts as soon as possible

  • Silent phase until lead gifts and half the income is committed

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski



  • Effect on fundraising is still evolving – not significant as direct source of funds

  • Good web site can be a source of on-line contributions

  • New prospects check websites before making gift commitments

  • Effective ongoing donor cultivation – newsletters, event announcements, press releases, photos, etc.

  • Social media can be effective for visibility and reinforcement

  • Appears to be low cost; very labor intensive

  • Studies show combination of direct mail & internet is especially effective


  • Get on the learning curve and move up fast – periodicals, newsletters, training, consulting

  • Create an effective web site - expensive

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

The plan
The Plan

All the tools have to come together into an integrated, coherent plan

  • Fundraising cost/benefit analysis

  • Budget, staffing, and organizational culture

  • Do we have the necessary skills and knowledge in-house?

  • Staff or consultants

    Develop a calendar of activities for the year, keeping in mind:

    cash flow


    the organization’s programmatic and administrative planning

    Plans and budgets serve as important political documents: use them to get leadership and staff buy-in.

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

More tools
More tools

  • Your skills and experience – fundraising and nonprofit management

  • Education, training

  • Keeping up with the latest information and research

  • Skills for dealing with board members, staff, clients, donors – listening is key

  • Public relations and communications

  • Writing

  • Professional organizations and contacts

  • The mission and reputation of your organization

  • Organizational support

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Let s get real
Let’s Get Real

  • What will work best for my organization?

  • Can I identify immediate next steps?

  • What barriers do I face?

  • What changes can I make?

  • What is beyond my control?

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski

Where to get more information
Where to Get More Information

  • Other training sessions

  • Books, articles, electronic sources

  • Consulting services, other sources

  • Keep up with the field

Support Center 6/27/11 Bonnie Osinski