Your Board decides that it is time for your organization to aggressively undertake a major fundraising effort. They make it clear that they want you to jumpstart this new initiative IMMEDIATELY! But before you make that first donor call and solicit that first gift, it is imperative that you and the Board answer the following questions:
1. Does the organization have 501.C.3.status.?
2. Has the Board approved policies that address the following issues?
- Naming rights
- Gift acceptance guidelines i.e. pledges over time; gifts other than cash
- Donor recognition
- Adoption of IRS gift acceptance standards
3. Does the organization have a list of potential donors that can donate large gifts as well as small gifts and who believe in the project?
4. Does the organization have a board that is involved and committed to the fundraising project through the following ways?
- Identifying names of potential donors.
- Making donor visits.
- Asking for money.
- Making a significant personal gift.
5. Is there a strong history of gift support for the organization over time and with increased giving amounts?
6. Does the organization have strong collateral materials?
- An intuitively navigated website that allows a donor to easily donate.
- Print materials that make a strong case for support
- Pledge cards
- Return envelopes
7. Is there an intact record keeping system with the ability to track gifts, to issue receipts that fulfill tax deductible requirements, to issue pledge reminders and to liquidate non-cash gifts?
8. Does the organization have necessary staff to complete the following tasks?
- Manage the day-to-day functions of the organization
- Set donor visits
- Ensure that all follow-up details are completed, i.e., thank you notes, stewardship contacts, etc.
If you and your board could not easily answer these questions, PLEASE take a couple of steps back and take the time to put together the necessary fundraising framework needed to ensure that your fundraising efforts are successful!! You will not be sorry!
Dr. Jill Nilsen has more than 35 years experience working at Eastern Illinois University and was responsible for all of the external outreach to their many customers. She was responsible for marketing, communications, fundraising and building strong alumni relationships. She also is an active volunteer in the regional nonprofit sector having served as board president of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, Excellence in Education Foundation for Charleston, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Board, and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Jill and her husband Hank reside in Charleston.