Welcome to the Nonprofit Snapshot blog!
Fundraising vs. Development

Fundraising vs. Development 

What’s the difference between fundraising and development? Some people say it’s just a matter of semantics. They may be right. But I think there’s a distinction that’s worth noting.

Fundraising vs. Development

Fundraising is transactional. It is the transaction of asking for and receiving a gift. Fundraising asks tend to happen on a timeline determined by the organization.

Development is relational. It is the process of developing relationships with donors for long-term, organizational benefit. Gifts may bind the donor to your organization over the entire span of the relationship. This timeline is defined by the donor.

Your Board of Directors

Fundraising and Development are major responsibilities for all board members. The days when board members could just show up to vote on minutes are a thing of the past. To properly look after their fiduciary responsibility to their organization, all board members must be doers, donors, and door openers. The challenge of leadership is to inspire board members to bring their time, treasures, and talents.

Board Giving

I think organizational fundraising efforts begin with the board of directors. Board members must start the fundraising effort with a personal commitment of their own dollars to the organization. Some grants aren’t available unless 100% of the board has made a personal gift. Some organizations stipulate an annual “give or get” requirement. Others prefer to let the board member dictate what “personally significant” means. I am known for making a statement to boards that raises a lot of eyebrows: “If you can write that check without thinking about it, it’s not big enough.” A director’s organization should be their chief philanthropic concern for the duration of their term. (But this may be a topic for a future post.) 

Strategies and Plans

It also seems clear to me that an organization’s development efforts are also seeded by the board, even if professional development staff exists. A board member who is properly aligned with your organization is a de facto ambassador for the organization, spreading the word about the org’s good works, and fostering good will among friends and peers. Board members should be willing to bring their “rolodex” to the table to help the organization cultivate new relationships with new donors and stakeholders. 

But neither development (nor fundraising) should be done in the absence of an overall strategy and plan. A good strategy helps keep you organized and focused. A good plan helps you keep an eye on sustainability and accountability. 

An Exercise

As a precursor to the work I do with organizations to help them develop their strategies and plans, I like to ask the participants to go through a thought experiment before we ever gather at the table:

Assuming your organization has a $1,000,000 budget, think about how you would raise money to support your organization. How long will it take to raise that kind of money and from where? Historically speaking, what does the income/revenue stream look like? Grants? Individual gifts? Other sources? Are those gifts sustainable over a long term? Consider mission creep, collaborations, diversified funds, etc…

I find the resulting conversation serves as a nice springboard to developing excellent strategies and plans for the organization. We’ll take a look at associated fundraising costs, developing a year-round calendar, and aligning an organization’s messaging to match. 

Contact Nonprofit Snapshot

Let me help you with your Fundraising and Development efforts. I try to keep my rates transparent and approachable. Let’s work together and pave the way to your organization’s success.