By Dr. Nathan A. Schaumleffel, Driven Strategic LLC
Is there a way to fund our park foundation without grants? Geez......I get that question a lot! The good news is...YES! There is! It’s called an annual fund.
Annual fund doesn’t mean we ask each prospect or donor to give once each year. It is better to think of an annual fund as the fund that pays for your organization’s annual operating expenses….like a checking account. The goal of an annual fund is to raise enough money to cover monthly operating expenses for the organization….from salaries to rent to insurance to utilities to copy paper.....
From my last blog, if the cornerstone of a park foundation is the board of directors, then the keystone is the
fundraising function. The fundraising function is sometimes called the development function or called fiscal resource development. Whatever you call it...the bottom line is fun cost funds! And parks and recreation is fun! The keystone
locks all of the stones into position.
The trick to setting your keystone is to build a robust, sustainable annual fund, so you’re not living hand to mouth so to speak and stringing along on life support from grant to grant. Grants are a nice addition for offering mission-focused services after you are generating enough dollars to keep your doors open without grants.
Annual funds are only successful if the board of directors, the cornerstone of the park foundation, leads through 100% board giving of their personal treasure and getting treasure from others!
Let me share some actionable steps in establishing an annual fund....
First, for now, FORGET about grants (and get your volunteers and members to forget them, too)!
Second, remember about 80% or so of charitable dollars come from individual donors. Your most reliable individual donors are your volunteers and board members, so you’ll need to be sure your volunteer manager is building positive relationships with volunteers or you’ll be “shooting yourself in the fundraising foot.”
Next, get acquainted with the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Code of Ethical Standards, Donor Bill of Rights, and eDonor Bill of Rights. Live and breathe these documents! Fundraising is about personal relationships and the foundation of relationships is ethics!
Fourth, write a case statement for your organization. A well-written case statement is the foundation for all fundraising activities, even grant proposal writing (and it is a great behind the scenes role for a passionate volunteer who is not so thrilled about “asking for money”)!
Don’t do anything else until your case statement is complete and board approved!
As you can see, the fundraising function is truly the keystone to optimally-functioning park foundations!
Over the next few blogs, I'll share more actionable steps in establishing an annual fund and share tips on facilitating volunteer engagement that builds and finances impactful local park foundations and friends groups. And we won't discuss the g-word....gr@#!$.
I truly hope you’ll begin to enhance the park experience in your community by setting the keystone of your park foundation by committing to developing an annual fund that doesn't rely on gr@#!$.
Consider joining NAPF today! You’ll get the capacity-building resources to start, build, and grow the impact of your local park foundation or friends group!
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© Dr. Nathan A. Schaumleffel, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Photo Credit:Creative Commons