In Fundraising there is no formula

Fundraising the Essentials for Success contains the building blocks that are fundamental to a successful campaign. But in fundraising there is no formula. You can take that set of blocks and employ them in a variety of ways. When you understand the fundamentals you can construct your campaign imaginatively and avoid mistakes that contain potential for failure. Pablo Picasso was a highly accomplished draftsman before he ventured into Cubism. His father, himself an accomplished painter and teacher, had instilled in him the basics, through drawings of anatomy and oil painting. Picasso had a complete understanding of technique before he started working beyond the conventions.

There is no single formula for fundraising, but you have to understand the rules to know whether what you are attempting is possible and the risks you face. It is an important element of fundraising to be daring and bold. I’ve said it before, if you are not excited about your project then why should anyone else be? Read the blog “You are what you think. So just think big”. Big thinking is important but it needs to be grounded on proper understanding of the essential components of successful fundraising.

I have been called upon, occasionally in my career, to advise on campaigns where ambitious goals have been set and the campaign was in trouble because some key fundamentals had been ignored. The most common issues related to the timescale allowed and over-optimism as to the potential for support. The issue of timescale is dealt with in the blog “In Fundraising, time is not on your side”. Over-optimistic estimates for support normally originate from a Feasibility Study that has not been rigorously prosecuted. Success becomes dependent on what, in American Football, is called a “Hail Mary”. At the end of the game, the quarterback makes a last desperate throw in the hope someone grabs hold of it and wins the match. One never wants to be in that situation.

Fundraising programmes are an advertisement for your organisation. They broadcast your intent; what you want to achieve. It is a very public platform you are occupying and it is essential for the campaign to succeed. Success is the springboard that propels you upward. It creates the investor confidence for bigger challenges. Donors will come forward when you float the next project. They have reason to believe in you. The converse, of course, is true where what is promised cannot be delivered.

Its vital you know the essentials and the classical construction of a fundraising campaign. Fundraising the Essentials for Success provides you with that in easily assimilated form. We stand at a moment of seismic change created by the pandemic. It is evident that charitable organisations must re-examine  how they conduct their business and therefore how they conduct their fundraising.

The repercussions of how we work, where we work and if we work will continue to reshape our environment. Attitudes will shift. Priorities, national and personal, will shift. The wreckage of many organisations litters the roadside of history because they had a formula, which they doggedly stuck with, while the environment in which they worked changed and left them behind. Fundamental principals will remain, but the way you apply them may have to change. At a time like this it is important to stand back, examine all your certainties and realise that there are rules in fundraising but there is no formula.  How to meet the challenges of the future and thrive? You will probably have to reprint your rule-book.