Posts Tagged ‘Finance’

Kelly’s Two Pesos (Notes from the Fundraising Guru)

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

(NOTE: Yes, Kelly is writing in the third person. But don’t get used to it!)


This past Monday, June 9, 2008, Kelly of the Pattersons (aka, “KellyKarma” on CS) held an intensive fundraising workshop/exercise for all ACS Collective team members. Collective volunteers were strategically divided into four teams:

  • Leadership Team
  • Two separate Tech Team groups
  • PR/Communications/Events/Identity

The overall objectives of this event: to assist all teams in long-term planning, identify prospective team needs (resources) over the next 3 years, as well as to assess general team knowledge of fundraising tactics, while simultaneously serving as a research tool to measure CS team members’ fundraising perceptions. This event also served to demonstrate how fundraising plays a role in all the CS departments and must ALWAYS be aligned with CS’s core values and mission.

The workshop started with Kelly’s (Infamous) Fundraising 101 Analogy:

“Fundraising is a lot like dating…there is you (CS) and you obviously think you are sexy, unique and brilliant, and you are trying to find either your soul mate, a Sugar Daddy/Mommy, or just a slut. And like dating, there is a lot of awkward dinner and movie dates (we actually use the term “dating the funder” in the industry), in order to establish an intimate connection, before you bust a move.

And as in dating, you would never even SUGGEST or imply sex unless you were confident there was some interest. The only difference in fundraising and dating is that in fundraising the ultimate goal is money or resources; whereas, with dating, we seek sex …in my experience, the money is much more reliable than good sex. However, ideally, CS will find its soul mate.”

Kelly explained, using her best “pre-school teacher voice”, there is a myriad of ways to fundraise, depending on what exactly you are raising funds for…these are the most common ways:

  1. Grants (specifying the four categories of grants: private, corporate, trusts, and government grants)
  2. Fundraising events/benefits (such as AIDS Walk, marathons, Tugela River Raft Race)
  3. Direct mail/e-mail solicitations (those annoying appeals in the mail or those that flood our email boxes)—trends in online fundraising (pay per clicks like the Hunger Site,, e-advocacy, etc.)
  4. Income generation ideas—Shonali’s photo idea, blogging (for money), production creation and sales…RED campaign, or just buying something and then selling it (girl scout cookies, the school candy bars)
  5. Private donations
  6. Membership fees
  7. Corporate sponsorship/advertising (Red Bull events—think of sports stadium)
  8. Capital Campaigns: specifically for real estate, pool, buildings, etc.
  9. Donation drives (think NPR and PBS)
  10. Gifts in kind (gifts of labor or materials/office equipment)
  11. Endowments

Kelly, then, introduced the universal process of writing a basic grant.

Basic Grant-Writing—ironically, 70% of grant writing is RESEARCH.

  • Research potential funding bodies
  • Identify potential funding bodies
  • Query potential funding bodies
  • When you get the green light—write a grant proposal

What exactly is a grant? In business terms, a grant is an investment with no economic return. A grant is a substantial, usually long-term or time-bound, commitment of funds, resources or gifts-in-kind from one agency (trust, company, etc.) to a non-profit organization. In order to secure a grant, one must perform three essential tasks:

  1. Research: Research potential donor agencies and identify a “match.” For example, one could expect Tobacco Companies to consider funding Cancer research; however, one could not expect the Elton John AIDS Foundation to consider funding Cancer research.
  2. Query: Once a “suspect” donor agency has been identified, the grant writer must “query” the potential donor. This is usually a single page letter or email that briefly introduces the non-profit organization and requests grant application guidelines, forms, instructions, and general criteria.
  3. The Proposal: Following any instructions of the potential donor agency, the grant writer must clearly communicate with the non-profit employer, and then compose a comprehensive proposal to the donor agency with the sole objective of “selling” the cause of the non-profit employer and securing the funds/resources/gifts-in-kind requested in the proposal. Proposal styles and formats greatly vary, depending on the guidelines or application forms of donor agencies; however, there is a universal format.

The second half of the workshop involved an exercise of (what Kelly calls) the “WISH LIST” game. The idea is to imagine (were money/funds not an issue), what human resources, equipment, practical tools, supplies, programs, etc. would each team need in order to be sustainable and self-sufficient, with no extra cost to CS members.

This exercise optimizes the concept that each team knows its own team strengths, weaknesses and needs best. This also serves as a primer for long-term planning and prospective budget development. And selfishly, Kelly needs a long-term plan and budget in order to engineer a comprehensive, sustainable fundraising strategy for CS.

In conclusion, after much discussion about each team’s WISH LIST, noting team WISH LIST similarities and differences, Kelly collected all the WISH LIST’s and agreed to draft budget spreadsheets for each team based on the data collected from the workshop/exercise….and lastly, assigned team leaders to complete budget forms by a clear deadline. And believe it or not, this is actually a fun exercise!

Kelly of the Pattersons (Fundraising Guru)