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not for profit

Not for profit fundraising

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‘Unprecedented’ – it became the word of the year back in 2020 when the novel coronavirus spread across the global community. And while we are still riding the rollercoaster of COVID’s impact on the economy and our society, there are certain aspects of the not for profit world that are looking to the future to find a new normal.

Not for profit fundraising took a huge hit during the initial waves of the virus and many organisations spent much of 2020 and 2021 trying to survive. But we hope that now, at the start of 2022, there are opportunities for NFPs to achieve positive funding results.

Wendy Brooks & Partners is an organisation that works with non-profits, providing strategic fundraising services and Catherine Brooks is one of their senior advisors. We feature some of her work and thoughts on fundraising during the pandemic.

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The Big Rethink

In October 2020, Wendy Brooks & Partners, in collaboration with Our Community, adapted the report ‘The Big Rethink: Fundraising in the era of COVID-19’. The report was originally produced by KCI Philanthropy (Canada) but was repurposed to suit the Australian not for profit landscape.

The report outlined how it was essential for NFP Boards and senior management to “…lead their organisations through visioning and planning exercises.” There was a definitive need for all non-profits to have a solid plan for the future. ​​”No matter how you have or have not been affected by the pandemic, your organisation cannot assume that the way you used to do things will continue to work in the future.”

It is also critical for organisations to nurture a learning environment with a ‘culture of inquiry’ and involve your volunteer leadership and donors. Re-engaging key stakeholders and asking what they think about your mission is crucial – what do they want? These conversations would help determine how to strengthen the organisation.

Plus, it noted not to pause fundraising activity for too long or stop altogether, because this could cause significant loss of ground and cause you to face greater challenges when you’re trying to restart. Maintaining momentum during the difficult time would help keep the organisation’s pulse beating.

“As is the case in any challenging time, there is also opportunity. Probably one of the most significant is that the pandemic has given the not for profit sector a ‘demonstration of relevance’ opportunity that is second to none. This situation illustrates how critical not for profits are to Australians’ health and wellbeing. It has demonstrated the importance of having a strong social safety net, whether in healthcare, education or social services.”

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Community engagement

In addition to working on The Big Rethink report, Catherine also published an article on Our Community in April 2021. In this article she highlighted three key activities that would help organisations achieve their not for profit fundraising goals.

The first was community engagement. You need to be talking to people regularly to make sure you are always front of mind. One of the easiest ways you can do this is through social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok can help you stay connected to the people you work with but also help you reach potential new supporters.

Tell people about the awesome work you do, the challenges you face and, of course, the specific needs of your community.

In addition to social media, keep your website up to date with activities and blog articles if it is appropriate and send newsletters out to the people on your database to keep them in the loop too.

Make sure you apply

Next up, Catherine noted that funding applications dropped during the height of the pandemic even though so many people were in greater need of services. She says:

“While it is understandable that many organisations had to focus on service delivery and organisational changes, this also meant that some organisations didn’t prioritise fundraising.”

This is an important reminder that you need to make sure you apply. Take the time to complete funding applications as well as preparing sound business plans.

Strong relationships

Finally, Catherine points out that developing strong relationships with funders is central to successful funding results. Just because you don’t receive the first grant you apply for doesn’t mean you should give up on that relationship.

Starting a conversation with the funder to find out why you weren’t successful can be extremely helpful in preparing for future applications. It can also give you the opportunity to discuss your work with the funder directly, rather than have them read it on a form… hearing your passion and determination to succeed could be the factor that gets them over the line next time.

NFP accounting services

Here at Accounting For Good, we understand that fundraising is complex, but we can help make sure your financial management is worry-free. We are experts in not for profit accounting. For more than twenty years, we have worked alongside talented and passionate individuals who are making a difference in the world.

Our extensive experience enables our team to offer tailored services that match your needs. If you’d like to find out more about how our team can help your organisation, please contact us today.

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