HVFC Trends Research on Fundraising | Takeaway 6
The power of a strong strategy
The competition in the fundraising landscape is growing. This is even more so with the constantly changing COVID-19 situation which causes economic uncertainty. In order to outdo your growing competition, we at HVFC strongly believe in proactive fundraising. Proactive fundraising allows you to identify and build lasting relationships with donors that are relevant for your organization. Note however, that prior to taking a proactive approach to fundraising, what is even more fundamental is having a well-defined strategy. Even though no perceived challenges related to strategy emerged from our research, there was a clear trend in the interviews reflecting the power of having a well-defined strategy.
Why is having a solid fundraising strategy even more essential today?
As mentioned in takeaway #5, COVID-19 sharpens existing problems. This means that organizations that have a clearly formulated goal and a well-defined strategy can incorporate COVID-19 in their fundraising.
It is therefore essential for fundraising organizations to communicate their strategy, may it be when initiating partnerships with the private sector, or when submitting proposals to bilateral donors. It is also important for organizations to strongly position themselves in discussions with bilateral donors that are increasingly taking on a ‘development managerialism’ approach.
NGOs have to keep positioning themselves as independent [non-governmental] entities. NGOs should have their own strategy, a mission statement. If you do not know what you stand for, it becomes difficult to negotiate with a donor.
It is also important for non-profits to remember that they are here for the farmers [e.g.], not for the donor. That distinction is important to keep making. You have to stay true to your vision, mission and goals, that is the success formula for fundraising for me.
How to set up a solid and well-defined strategy?
It is important to build your strategy around a clear mission statement and vision. This is where it all starts. Your fundraising strategy should then match the goals and ambitions of your organization. You can even embed your fundraising explicitly in your organization’s overarching strategy. Once you have a well-defined strategy it is important to keep evaluating and updating your strategy on a regular basis to keep it accurate. You can for example do this six monthly or yearly. Such regular revisions also create the possibility to rethink how situations like COVID-19 match with your strategy, or can be incorporated into your strategy.
In the last few years, we have identified some weak points and we are investing in building those capacities. The first thing we did, was stop poor designs leaving the door. We focus on the resources we do have and on the on [the proposals] where we have a higher chance of winning. Furthermore, we are very selective and consultative. It is about building on the resources that you have and focusing on a small thing that you really have the knowledge of.
Graduating from the Radboud University in Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies and Philosophy, Politics and Society, Ilse has a multidisciplinary background, and supports HVFC by gathering insights. She led HVFC very first Trends Research on Fundraising.
About the research
HVFC has developed a new research initiative to track trends within the fundraising landscape. With the data collected we hope to analyze and explain the context of most of the challenges highlighted by our peers active in the fundraising sector. We then aim to further help you, and others, face current obstacles and anticipate future ones.
The pilot version of the research initiative was conducted throughout 2020 on fundraising professionals working across the world, from over 40 organizations, with diverse budgets ranging from less than a million to more than a million euros. In a series of 6 blog posts we share with you the main takeaways.
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