I firmly believe that a new era has dawned for emerging fundraising professionals of color.
Reflecting on the early days of my career, I stumbled into this field with little understanding that a non-profit fundraising career even existed. In 1990, fresh out of undergrad, I took on the role of a departmental secretary in alumni relations at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. I was not only the sole Black individual in alumni relations but also on the fundraising side of the massive alumni and development shop.
It’s October, and….
Do you hear that?
Oh no! It’s the sound of an approaching deadline for a grant you haven’t written! Run for the hills!
Whether you call it a Capital Campaign or a Comprehensive Campaign…the excitement and fear are the same. Most nonprofit professionals rarely have the opportunity to be on a development team that is conducting a large fundraising campaign. Even fewer of us have the opportunity to lead the effort. I have been a frontline fundraiser for over 30 years leading both large and small development shops. And, I have been fortunate to lead three large campaigns, two comprehensive campaigns and one endowment campaign. If you are one of the lucky few that has been anointed the privilege of leading your organization’s upcoming campaign, let me share some advice.
As many have recently begun a new fiscal year, now is a great time to begin to reflect not only on what has been accomplished over the past year, but also, what we hope to achieve over the next 12 months. Typically, this exercise will inspire organizations and individuals to sit down and document their goals.
In the nonprofit sector, we face a constantly shifting landscape of funding. Government funding waxes and wanes with every change of political office. Private funders change priorities in response to current events. Individual contributions rise and fall with the stock market.
So, how can organizations maintain financial stability in the midst of change? Diversifying revenue is the key. When your organization has support from multiple sources, it can weather uncertain times.
Aah, May! Flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. The sky is bluer and the grass greener. And hopefully, your organization is slowing down a bit to celebrate a few award notifications at the close of a busy spring grants cycle. During the late spring or early summer months, because schedules are calmer, you might consider inviting existing or prospective funders to visit for an agency tour or coffee date. These “just because” visit invitations are great ways to try and nurture relationships outside of presenting an ask (don’t forget to add your major donors to the mix!).
Embarking on a comprehensive campaign is an exciting opportunity for any nonprofit and the catalyst for significant growth into the future. This is an opportunity to maximize the goodwill of your nonprofit in the community.