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FUNdraising Good Times

POSTED: February 21, 2017, 9:00 am

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Knowing your mission, vision and proposed impact is critical to your success as an organization. Equally important is the process of building your fundraising capacity and infrastructure. But what exactly are these things?

Here are three things you need to know.
1. These refer to tangible and intangibles such as people, skills, relationships, technology, processes, and more.
2. These aren’t built overnight: they are developed over time.
3. These require conscious effort and investments of time

Here’s what we mean by fundraising capacity:
1. An organization’s experience with fundraising, especially that of staff and board members
2. A board of directors that is committed to fundraising
3. The number of staff and volunteer leaders who are trained and experienced in fundraising
4. The number of volunteers (trained as well as untrained but willing) available to assist with fundraising
5. The type and quality marketing materials available – especially the case for support
6. The extent of positive awareness amongst the general public, and amongst people who can either make or influence major gifts
7. An ongoing annual fundraising program
8. A pool of prospective donors that includes individuals, businesses, and foundations

The term “infrastructure” is used to refer to systems and people that support fundraising activities. This includes things such as:
1. A fundraising plan
2. Staff whose formal job responsibilities include fundraising
3. Policies and procedures for processing and acknowledging gifts
4. A development committee of the board of directors
5. A fund development taskforce comprised of board members and other volunteers
6. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities in the area of fundraising for staff and board members
7. Donor relationship management software that is consistently used to track and report on all elements of fundraising activities.
8. An adequate budget for fund development and fundraising activities

Review these two lists and use them as a tool for evaluating your organization’s fundraising capacity and infrastructure. Discuss whether or not you really have the capacity and infrastructure you need. Ask probing questions. For example, is your capacity and infrastructure on paper and in action? How do you bring what’s on paper to life? Do the things you have on paper produce the desired outcomes? Do you need to do things differently? Trying to use your capacity and infrastructure will let you know whether or not these really exist. This will also reveal what you may need to do to strengthen these. You want to be accountable to your community and funders regarding the investments they make in your organization. You need to demonstrate you have the capacity and infrastructure to manage valuable resources.

Fundraising capacity and infrastructure are at the heart of an organization’s ability to deliver on its mission and secure funding. Take the time to invest in these: they can help carry you through the good times and the hard times.

Copyright 2017 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.

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