Fundraising is a Team Sport

Guest post from Susan Kernes

Successful fundraising is about reinforcing your relationship with existing donors while building relationships with new ones. As in all relationship-building, the goal is to attract the resources you need in order to achieve your outcomes.

Make sure your Board actively participates in fundraising. They should know your mission and values by heart. If they don’t, print cards on card stock in a format that’s easily tucked into a pocket.

Approaching potential funders requires at least 5 contacts before making the ask. Use your “spider sense” and common sense to gauge when a prospective donor is ready to be asked to support you. Ask too soon and you risk alienating the prospect. Ask too late and you risk a missed opportunity.

Have a marketing plan that includes the following.

  • Marketing plan that incorporates goals and measurements for achieving results.

  • Choose the tools: branding, social media, snail mail, 1:1, networking, events.

  • Clearly state goals for each type of outreach.

  • Brand identity that conveys what your organization is/does. This is important enough that you may want to engage a marketer who specializes in branding.

  • May or may not include logo.

Secure board buy-in to plan and implement donor outreach.

  • If the Board has a development or fundraising committee, this is part of their duties.

  • If not, create a task force or subcommittee of the Board.

  • Make sure there are clear lines of responsibility in order to promote efficiency of communication.

  • Work with the task force to craft the outreach/fundraising strategy.

  • Ask the task force for ideas to collect names/contact information.

  • Develop the contact list and keep careful notes, keep updating.

Task force presents the plan to the Board in the form of a resolution.

Be sure you have administrative procedures in place that can handle all types of interaction and communication between your organization and the public as specified in the marketing plan.

These basic building blocks for developing relationships with donors are designed to get you on the right path and are by no means comprehensive.

About Susan Kernes

Susan Kernes was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, and attended New York University. She moved west on the eve of our bicentennial—July 3, 1976—and never looked back. After a five-year apprenticeship at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California, Susan spent the next 25 years in management, programming, and fundraising positions at a variety of non-commercial community radio stations in California and Alaska. She’s won numerous awards for her audio productions. Having grown up listening to ethnic music it was only natural she has a large collection of hard-to-find and unusual music in many different genres, most especially in traditional American and world music and western classical. She currently operates Kernes Consulting, having also operated True North Productions and serving as a reporter/producer to cover the Exxon Valdez oil spill. For 7 years, Susan was Wells Fargo’s Community Relations Manager in Alaska, then Washington state. She lives in Seattle with her cat, Mu-Shu Pork (her favorite dish). Susan is always available for consultation. First hour is free. Contact:

Photo: Kentucky Country Day School; via Flickr, CC 2.0

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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