National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
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Essentials of Fund Raising

Recognize as you read these principles that in most cases the National Park Service will not be directly involved in fund raising activities. Nonetheless, knowledge of these principles will help Park Service employees make intelligent judgements about fund raising to benefit the park. In a condensed form, here are some of the essentials of successful fund raising.

RAISE MONEY FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE MARKETPLACE: "The days of hand-wringing and arm-twisting are drawing to a close. Today, the successful organization invites people to invest in a worthy enterprise."

  1. Organizations Have No Needs. People have needs and wants that organizations can address with solutions, answers, and capabilities.
  2. Seek Investment, Not Charity.. "People give in order to get." Organizations can put philanthropic dollars to work! People don't want to feel they're giving away money. Rather, they want to feel they're investing their money, and getting something in return.
  3. Position Your Organization Relative to its Competition. Distinguish your organization so it stands out from the crowd in the philanthropic marketplace; think marketing.
  4. Listen to the Donor Community and to What Each Donor Has to Say. Ask people what they think of your organization, and what they want from it. People like to be sought for their counsel. The donor community is made of individual people with their personal thoughts, concerns, and aspirations. Rather than making the same case to everyone, listen and respond on a personal level.
  5. Donors Will Tell You What They Want. You'll never know what your prospect wants until you ask.
  6. Make Your Case Larger than the Institution. Begin with an attractive, achievable, worthwhile vision of the future, showing how your organization contributes towards building that future.
  7. Design Your Case to Move People Intellectually and Emotionally. Your case must inspire and challenge prospective donors to play a role in making it all happen. Be brief. Otherwise it demonstrates lack of confidence and clarity, and it's boring!

GET PEOPLE INVOLVED: "The way to raise real money is to provide real involvement. So put people before dollars."

  1. Go For the Gold. Get the very best people to lead. Look for qualities of affluence, influence, availability, and team spirit.
  2. Create Authentic Involvement. Ask for insights and opinions. Invite people to do something important for you. Enable them to develop a strong sense of involved interest in your organization.
  3. The Process of Planning is More Important than the Plan Itself. Planning for your organization's future presents an opportunity for involvement. People become motivated to work for, and invest in plans they helped develop. Planning also focuses and clarifies thinking, and makes your organization look good.
  4. Share Your Plans Without Asking for Money. Your campaign won't work if your goals haven't been tested and leaders aren't identified. Find out what community leaders think of your fund raising plans. Cultivate relationships with donors by keeping them well informed of your plans.

SET THE PACE FOR GIVING: "If the most capable give substantially and give early, the others will follow -- as night follows day."

  1. If You Seek Average Gifts, You Get Below-Average Results. Aim higher. Remember, it's the leadership commitment that makes things happen.
  2. Few Will Do the Most. "Ninety percent of the funds come from about ten percent of the donors." Focus your efforts on the small number of prospects who will produce the greatest results. Another formula, the "rule of thirds," says you'll raise one-third of your goal from the top 10, one-third from the next 100, and one-third from all others.
  3. The Early Donor Sets the Pace. "He who gives early gives twice." His/her contribution sets an example for others to follow. Identify likely large donors and solicit them before you approach anyone else so news of their commitment will encourage others to join in. Some fund raisers say a rule of thumb is to raise half of your funds from early donors before publicizing your fund raising campaign.
  4. Trustees/Board Members Have an Opportunity, Not an Obligation. Don't pressure them into giving, but rather create opportunities for them to become actively involved and genuinely interested in your organization's success.
  5. Staff Giving Lends Credibility. Voluntary staff contributions convey a sense of the value of your organization, and demonstrate respect for its leadership by those most intimately associated with the organization. Asking staff to contribute also gives them a deserved chance to invest in and work for their organization's future. Staff giving must be voluntary, never required.
  6. Make Great Investments Possible. Provide prospects with giving flexibility and choice, including flexible payment periods and creative financial vehicles other than cash; recognition; and opportunities for planned giving.

APPLY THE CAMPAIGN PRINCIPLE: "Structure makes people more productive. It gives them standards against which they can measure their performance."

  1. People Prefer Structure. People need to know what is expected of them, and whether they fit into the big picture. Provide people with specific goals, deadlines and assignments, and then create a positive climate for them to work effectively within your structure.
  2. Scheduling Creates Momentum. Take one step at a time. Successful fund raising results from a series of steps, taken one at a time, each done in correct sequence, according to a plan and schedule. Develop a schedule that sustains enthusiasm and excitement.
  3. Build a Sense of Campaign in which Winning is Fundamental. Challenge people. "Set goals high enough to stretch people, low enough for them to reach," and inspire them to meet those goals.
  4. Meetings Keep Things Moving. "Meetings are the glue that keeps a fund raising program together." They provide deadlines. "Well-run, well-attended meetings provide tangible evidence of an effective organization and a strong fund raising program."

ASK FOR MONEY: "The fund raiser is an investment counselor -- not a salesman."

  1. People Give to People. Remember, donors are people who give to the person who asks them. The fund raiser's own personality, sincerity, interest, and enthusiasm determines the outcome of the exchange between fundraiser prospect.
  2. The Right Person Makes the Difference. Be strategic. Find the right person to ask the right person in the right way for the right reason at the right time.
  3. The One Who Asks Must First Give. "Actions speak louder than words." The force of example is more compelling than good advice and good intentions.
  4. See Each Prospect Face to Face. Get as personal as you can. Always enlist a person in person.
  5. Ask For a Specific Amount, Ask for Enough. Prospects prefer to be asked for enough to reflect their stature and capability, and enough to get the job done. Once motivated to contribute, they may be more embarrassed by a request to give less than they're able than by a request for more. They want their investments to be large enough to "make a difference."
  6. Qualify the Prospect. Consider what the prospect is capable of giving, not what you think they are likely to do. Tailor your request to the donor's means, as determined through an evaluation of the donor's financial capability, reasons for giving, history of giving, and accessibility.
  7. Tenacity Prevails. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Securing a commitment from a prospect may require that you call on the person more than once. Be persistent.
  8. Ask For the Order. Invite the prospect to invest; while caution may be necessary -- some donors prefer to offer, rather than to be asked -- be sure to move ahead and ASK for the prospect's contributions -- "He who hesitates is lost."

PRACTICE STEWARDSHIP: "The task is not to get a donation, but to develop a donor."

  1. The Donor Deserves Good Stewardship. Good stewardship means protecting and managing the donor's investment, thanking the contributor, and continually reporting on the benefits stemming from the donor's investment. Build ongoing relationships with your donors.

KINDLE THE SPIRIT OF PHILANTHROPY: "Inspire the best people to become your best advocates."

  1. The Best Advocate is Both Donor and Volunteer. Inspire the best people to become your best advocates who can then inspire others by the force of their example. The advocate gives and asks others to give, works and asks others to work.
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