October 27, 2013

Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits by Ilona Bray

I think it's pretty universal in that most Non-Profits suffer from a lack of money.  Sure there might be a few out there that are well funded, but those are far and few between.  For the rest, fundraising is a high priority.  But a lot of people aren't familiar with the intricacies of fundraising.  It's not all bake sales.  Nolo's guide to Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits attempts to describe all the different aspects of fundraising, and what types and how to use them for your particular nonprofit.

Obviously, since this is a reference book there is no need to read it in any particular order. You can open it up to the section you need information about and just go.  And there are several different topics. 

Chapter One:  Your Fundraising Companion.  This is a basic introduction to the book and its uses.

Chapter Two:  Fundraising Tools.  This provides a brief look at the people, skills, and equipment that can be part of your fundraising arsenal and how to effectively use them.

Chapter Three:  Developing Your Fundraising Plan.  Everyone needs a plan.  Whether it be for that bake sale or a large scale event or even a marketing scheme.  This chapter details how to set a goal, see what assets you can use to reach that goal, develop a strategy, and finalize your plans for fundraising.

Chapter Four:  Attracting Individual Supports.  Most fundraisers know that a good portion of donations come from individual supporters.  While they don't have to be large donations, they can be more consistent than grants or other forms of fundraising.

Chapter Five:  How to Keep The Giver's Giving.  This is an important section.  Just because someone gives once doesn't mean they'll do it again.  An important part of fundraising is keeping your donors happy and giving consistently. 

Chapter Six:  Midscale and Major Donors.  While small donors are important, so are the larger ones. 

Chapter Seven:  Funds From the Great Beyond.  While not a comfortable topic, many fundraisers fail to notice the value of being included in wills and trusts, and asking for this privilege. 

Chapter Eight:  Special Events.  Probably the most popular way to fundraise, there are several different types of events and several different ways to do them.  This outlines a couple of ways to have successful events and to cater to your fundraising crowd.

Chapter Nine:  Raising Money Through Business or Sales Activities.  While not viable for a lot of non-profits, having a business generate money can be a way to bring in income to support the charity.

Chapter Ten:  Seeking Grants from Foundations, Corporations, and Government.  While one of the hardest ways to fundraise, it can also be the most rewarding.

Chapter Eleven:  Creating Printed Communications Materials.  A smaller section, this gives some basic tips for creating marketing material to draw interest in the organization.

Chapter Twelve:  Designing Your Website to Draw In Donors.  Setting up a website is a must in today's technology driven world and having easy access to make donations from this site increases the chance of hooking those donators. 

Chapter Thirteen:  Outreach Via Traditional and Social Media.  Pretty self-explanatory, you have to market yourself in many ways in order to gain interest in your nonprofit and fundraise.

Appendix A:  Worksheets.  This is a section filled with fundraising worksheets from a Sample Cost Analysis to a Grant Prospect Summary.  Very helpful and set up in a way that allows for copying of the page.

Appendix B:  Using the Interactive Worksheets.  This is just a quick section on how to access the files on NOLO's website.

Overall I found this book to contain a lot of useful information.  The only downside to it was that most of it seemed geared towards larger non-profits, and of those, those that had salaried workers.  For someone volunteering at a 100% volunteer non-profit it was hard to line up some of the advice and make it apply.  However, there were still some general fundraising rules that can apply to any non-profit and which were extremely helpful.  I particularly enjoyed the section on "Funds from the Great Beyond".  Having worked in estate planning at one point, it is amazing how many people are willing to donate to charities and I don't think it's a fundraising tool that gets utilized enough. 

Additionally, I thought that the few links and access to the website tools makes this a valuable resource as well.  I definitely plan to take advantage of it and soak in all the knowledge I can.  This book not only provides that technical format, but if you're just sticking with the book there's enough information to fundraise without the internet.  It's also easy to read and structured in a logical way to make sure that most everyone can understand the tips and how to use fundraising.  While brief in some chapters, it gives you enough information to get started and where to look for more in-depth explanations of fundraising.

Is this the answer to all of your fundraising woes?  Well, it's not going to start drawing money in your door and to your cause.  Ultimately, you have to take the knowledge in here and apply it the way it fits.  But it's a great resource and may give you a few ideas you didn't already have.

**This review is part of the Amazon Vine Program**

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