Nonprofit organisations (NPOs) play a pivotal role in addressing societal challenges, and it’s a given that raising sufficient funds is critical if they are to achieve their missions.
Many strategies are employed to secure donor support. For example, it is essential that the NPO initially puts good governance systems in place, and there should be a process of prospect research and cultivation before approaching a potential donor for funding. In due course, such groundwork culminates in an invitation to prepare a fundraising proposal.
When our organisation provides fundraising training to NPOs, I frequently receive feedback that preparing funding proposals is delegated to one or two persons only. These staff members (or fundraising consultant) usually bring several specialist skills.
They may be adept at marketing and writing, for example, but may have limited financial knowledge. The financial director, who could provide up-to-date statistics on matters such as the organisation’s reserve policy, is often not included.
This singular approach limits the impact and depth of the proposal. It typically results in insufficient information to help the potential donor make an informed decision, resulting in rejection.
To unlock the potential of a funding proposal, NPOs should involve the entire team in crafting these appeals. By leveraging diverse skills and perspectives, NPOs are better placed to create compelling, impactful proposals that resonate with donors and attract funding.
Collective wisdom: Involving more staff harnesses a wealth of knowledge, experience and creativity. Each team member, irrespective of their role, has a unique take on the organisation's work, beneficiaries and impact.
Emotional connections: Fundraising proposals are not mere solicitation tools; they serve as bridges to build emotional connections. By involving the entire team, NPOs can provide diverse perspectives, offer personal stories and first-hand experiences. The proposal becomes a powerful vehicle for conveying the passion, dedication and impact of the organisation.
Unified voice: Collaboration allows for brainstorming sessions, open dialogue and constructive feedback, reflecting a cohesive narrative. This enhances donors’ confidence in the organisation and its ability to bring about positive change.
Diverse skills: Effective fundraising proposals demand a range of skills, such as storytelling, persuasive writing, financial knowledge and attractive design. Engaging the entire team means that a communications expert can craft compelling narratives, programme staff working in communities can provide evidence of impact, financial staff can back up the proposal with comprehensive data, and designers can create visually appealing layouts.
Culture of ownership: Involving the entire team fosters a culture of ownership and collective responsibility. When team members have the opportunity to contribute to fundraising proposals, they feel valued and empowered. This sense of connection helps develop a positive work environment and strengthens commitment.
Training and continuity: Growing the skills sets of team members across the organisation helps with continuity in the event of staff changes, leave, or work crises. It also supports succession planning.
In conclusion, involving the entire team in fundraising proposals enables NPOs to harness collective wisdom, strengthen emotional connections, develop a unified voice, upskill staff, and foster a culture of ownership. Ultimately, this collaborative approach should result in more impactful fundraising appeals.
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