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VOL. 127 | NO. 175 | Friday, September 7, 2012

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Vision, Mission and Fundraising

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

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This is the second in a two-part series. In part one of this series we discussed the role that the vision, mission and strategic plan play in the life of a nonprofit’s fundraising. These are the starting point.

For example, when you begin discussing how much money your organization needs to raise you should refer to your strategic plan to map out what you are seeking to achieve over the coming years. From there you can begin to map out costs and fundraising goals.

Here’s some more detail, some things to consider. When the leadership of your organization fully understands your vision and mission they are in a strong position to evaluate – and as necessary modify – the strategic plan. Understanding the strategic plan allows your leadership to make informed financial projections that impact programs and operations. An understanding of the financial position and projections informs fundraising. These can help ensure the organization is engaged in proactive fundraising instead of “emergency fundraising.”

Here are a few questions, which can help define what we mean by the term financial position. Is your organization operating in the black? Does it run a deficit? Are there upcoming, required, but unfunded capital improvements or expenditures? Are programs being cut (despite increasing need) because of decreased funding? Does your organization have a pipeline of potential donors and funders who could be solicited should projected donations or revenue decrease? Are there multiple revenue streams, or do the majority of funds come from one source?

Take the time to ensure board members understand the implications of the financial statements they are asked to review. Encourage open discussion and questions regarding the organization’s finances. Discuss the variables that could impact your organization’s financial position, for better or for worse. Ensure that plans are put in place to address these possibilities should they arise. Review the size of the reserve fund and what expenses it could cover. If your organization doesn’t have a reserve fund, put plans in place to create and grow one. A reserve fund provides options for addressing an unanticipated increase in demand or services, or a decrease in revenue.

The economy may change without notice, and donors and funders may change their giving priorities – these are situations beyond anyone’s control. But, with proper planning, they do not need to jeopardize your organization’s financial health. Consistent monitoring and assessment of finances contributes to organizational stability and growth.

Your organization’s vision, mission, strategic plan and financial position will impact your fundraising success. Take the time you need to discuss and review these and to ensure there is full understanding and agreement amongst your organization’s leadership. This is your starting point for fundraising. Special events, online giving and major donor appeals are strategies that will be impacted by your foundation – or lack of one. Take your time; be prepared.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They provide fundraising counsel to Memphis, the Mid-South and the nation. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.

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