The Ace in your pocket.
Are you a beginner fundraiser who has no idea where to start? Or are you a veteran fundraiser who has raised millions of dollars? No matter where you are as a fundraiser, the Fundraiser’s Playbook is here to level up your fundraising.
In my business bookshelf next to my desk, I have a book on fundraising that is 1,154 pages long. And that doesn’t even cover everything! I have dozens of other books that go into fine detail on one style of fundraising or the other. (You can check out my favorite books here.)
So, how do you steer through all of your fundraising options? Where do you start? How do your improve your existing fundraising? What big ideas are you missing? Providing the answers to these questions is the reason that the Fundraiser’s Playbook exists.
The Fundraiser’s Playbook starts by teaching basic fundraising concepts that will be useful for any fundraiser. Then it will introduce you to best practices for various types of fundraising. The list of articles constantly grows, because I add new information every week. It will be a long time before I run out of new content. There are so many good ways to raise money!
Start at the beginning.
The best place to start is to take a look at where you are. Are you just getting started? Are your fundraising programs well established? The Getting Started section will help you look at some of the important questions like, “why am I doing this”? It will also give you some questionnaires find out where you’re at and where you should be going.
Your next stop is Key Concepts. Some fundraising ideas are important, no matter what kind of fundraising you choose to do. How good is your fundraising? How do you know? Why are you losing donors (hint: everyone does)? How do you find new donors? These questions are fundamental to fundraising of any kind.
Once you have the fundamentals down, visit Fundraising Tools and pick up tips that you’ll need to succeed. It doesn’t matter if you are doing grant writing, major gifts, direct mail, or events. You’re going to need to know how to create an annual fundraising plan, a program budget, and how to manage a donor database.
Once those pieces are in place, it’s time to dig in to learning about fundraising programs.
Building God’s Kingdom
If you’re fundraising for a church or ministry, you have a couple of special options for fundraisers. Very few non-profits can boast that they get a chance to talk to their donors in person every week.
The following three sections discuss fundraising that applies only in a church setting:
An annual stewardship campaign is a big push to get members to give their ‘Time, Talent, and Treasure’. Months of planning can be involved, leading to a month-long focus on stewardship commitments. Elements of the campaign can include the following:
- Homilies focused on stewardship
- Testimonials from members about the importance of stewardship in their lives
- Pledge cards
- Phone calls
- An annual goal
- A celebration.
The offertory is the primary fundraising tool in many, if not most, churches. At its simplest, this is the basket that goes around at Mass. Many churches are moving their offertory online by enabling members to make monthly gifts. Others are adding kiosks that take credit cards to take gifts from members who rarely carry cash.
Personal ministry fundraising helps someone to raise money for a particular mission or ministry. It focuses on direct asks to friends, families, and associates who share a passion for the mission. This type of fundraising is great for mission related programs, but is also good for any new non-profit.
You don’t have to start a new ministry from scratch. Others have gone before you and succeeded. Here you’ll see some successful approaches others have used to serve.
So many choices!
There are so many different ways to raise money. You don’t have to worry about too little opportunity. It’s more a question of choosing the opportunities that match your current resources and capabilities. The Fundraiser’s Playbook is broken down into the following sections:
The Annual Fund Drive is your yearly plan to raise money for your ministry. It will be made up of several different activities:
- Bringing in new donors (donor acquisition)
- Asking current donors to give again (donor cultivation)
- Reclaiming lost donors (donor reactivation).
Annual Fund Drives will look different at every organization, because each has different needs and different resources.
Your board of directors has an important role to play in fundraising. They can opening doors to new donors, build relationships with existing donors, and even help to ask major donors. If your board isn’t involved in fundraising, you’re missing out.
A Capital Campaign is a time limited fundraising campaign with a specific purpose. They often focus on building something big like a new church, building, warehouse, or religious house. Capital Campaigns are often quite difficult for new organizations. Sometimes, fundraising consultants can be brought in to aid full time staff.
Bake sales, rosary sales, pancake suppers, raffles, silent auction… any method that uses the profit from selling something to raise money is a charitable enterprise. Essentially, you run a little business and putting the profit to charitable use. A key weakness of this type of fundraising is that you focus is on selling a good or service rather than selling your mission.
Many companies have ‘community relations’ departments that oversee giving in the community. They follow many different models, from matching gifts and grant opportunities to employee giving drives and sponsorships.
A direct mail campaign uses the mail to describe a need and requests donations. It is very popular because it is relatively cheap and performs well.
Email fundraising looks a lot like direct mail, except that it uses email rather than paper mail. It doesn’t tend to raise as much money as Direct Mail because people are more likely to delete their email than throw out a mail piece. Email fundraising is less expensive than direct mail, so it will continue to grow in popularity.
Fundraising events might be a dinner, run, walk, golf tournament, or something totally new. They raise money by charging entry fees, selling auction items, team fundraising, getting sponsorships, etc. Events take a lot of time and energy to plan. Therefore, they tend to have a lower profit margin when compared with other fundraising types.
A food drive brings in food for a ministry and it can also help gather funds as well. Food and fund drives come in many flavors and can be effective for ministries of all sizes.
In the US, private and corporate foundations are organizations that exist to give away money. They get special tax benefits for doing so. They give based through process of written requests for funding.
Grant funders tend to be more sophisticated than individual donors. Your grant application will explain how you will use the grant funding will meet a need in the community. Churches with an attached parochial school or Cathedral are more likely to be eligible for these kinds of funding opportunities.
Major Gifts fundraising focuses on getting large one-time or multi-year gifts from individuals. It is one of the most rewarding types of fundraising in terms of monetary impact and relationship building. Small churches and ministries frequently miss out on major gift opportunities.
At its most basic, raising money online only requires a donate button somewhere on your website. Strategies can get more sophisticated as you begin to use social media and email to request funding. If your website is not sophisticated enough raise money, you do have other options. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and patron programs like Patreon provide platforms for you to raise money. Online fundraising is an area of tremendous growth will bear good fruit if you invest the necessary time and resources.
Phone based campaigns rely on volunteers or professionals to call current and former donors to request donations. They take lots of energy, but they provide a personal contact with many donors in a short time.
Planned gifts donate money, real estate, or other assets through a person’s estate plan or will. These gifts take years to cultivate, but are the biggest gifts that a church or ministry will ever get. Having a plan and a strategy to cultivate planned gifts is key!
Team based fundraising, or peer-to-peer fundraising, uses volunteers who tap into their networks of friends to fundraise for your organization. This style of fundraising is often connected with online fundraisers as well as events like walks or golf tournaments.
Find your fit!
The Fundraiser’s Playbook is not one size fits all, but it has options that will fit everyone. Find a fundraising style that fits your ministry and run with it. Once you’ve mastered it and can keep it going, add something else. A strong fundraising program will mix different styles of fundraising to create a broad base of support. Start building your programs today.
Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Amazon.com.
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