Monday, July 16, 2012

Fund Raising vs. Development

After more than 40 years working directly for non-profit organizations, I recently made the decision to become a consultant.  Being a consultant offers me the unique opportunity to work with many organizations, sharing my experience and expertise.  I get to offer an outside voice to organizations of varying size, age and missions.  This rewarding experience suits my desire to enhance our local non-profit community.  It also has presented me with some interesting and unexpected challenges.  Through this blog, I hope to share my insights along the way.
Working in development for as long as I have, my primary challenge was somewhat unexpected.  Clarifying the difference between “fund raising” and “development” is so important and something I took for granted was inherent in every organization.  However, as I continue to explore our local organizations, I realize it makes sense to help make this distinction more clear. 

Simply put fund raising is one part of the broader term development.  Your typical fund raisers have short term goals to bring in revenue immediately to an organization.  Development, on the other hand, involves many strategies to successfully fund organizations’ missions for the long-term.  

A commitment to purely fund raising is not always detrimental.  It can be appropriate when an organization is committed to a cause that has a clear beginning and end to its needs.  For example, funding a budget for a summer camp for one summer for a group of at risk youth might require a one- time fund raiser.  On the other hand, using sound development strategies that same camp can operate and serve thousands of children for many years.   

Development could include any or all of the following:

* Prospecting
* Marketing
* Research
* Goals and Objectives
* Creating a strategic plan
* Annual
* Planned
* Grant Writing
* Direct Mail
* Special Events

Understanding this distinction is extremely important as each of our community organizations determines their individual futures.  Long term sustainability is only achievable with a commitment on the part of all those involved to move away from purely fund raising and onto a development strategy that encourages the right donors to make the right type of philanthropic investment at the right time.