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Your Fundraising Projects ARE Your Priorities

As public organizations dip their toe into private fundraising, there is much to learn.  Public organizations, such as universities, public school systems and other important programs to our communities have begun to raise funds privately.  In order to be relevant and make your programs really special, it is necessary.  We all know that the government gives us just enough money to keep our doors open, but the really special experiences for students and other constituents rely on private funds.

As these public organizations begin to raise funds privately, they try to keep it separate from the budget.  That is a mistake.  All the things they budget for are extremely important, but they typically don’t have to consult with constituents in the community to set those priorities.  It is common for public groups to want to keep their fundraising as a “side gig.” 

However, in order to raise private funds, it takes everyone!  When there is an important project that cannot happen without private fundraising, EVERYONE in the organization should know about it and be talking about it. When someone from your organization calls on an individual or business to see if they are interested in giving, the person approached will immediately call anyone he knows in the organization and say, “Tell me about this new project!  How will it elevate your organization?”  If that is met with, “Huh?  I have never heard of this project,” immediately, the potential donor is on high alert and loses confidence in the project and the organization. 

Nobody wants to give to an organization when one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.  No matter how great the project is, people outside of the organization will question the legitimacy of it if no one inside knows what they are talking about. Many times, organizations are just too large for everyone to know what is going on, but the relevant people to the project, at every level, should be able to have a conversation about it, because eventually, they will be asked. 

When setting your budgets, remember that fundraising projects are NOT in addition to your priorities, they ARE your priorities.  That will definitely be the perception once your community is buzzing about it.  Important fundraising projects should be part of the budgeting process and part of the budget discussion.  If a project is not important enough for all relevant personnel to know it is happening, it is not important enough to ask your community to get behind it. 

It is a myth that fundraising is in addition to the rest of the things going on in your organization.  Fundraising will not be successful unless it is an integrated part of what is happening in your organization every day!


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