Here in northern California, the shifting of seasons is a somewhat subtle process. But in the last couple of weeks it has become clear: summer is definitely coming. I’m sure that many of you are much more aware of this than I am, since you’re seeing the school year come to a close.
It strikes me that, for the first time all year, some sites may have a little more breathing room to think about raising new funds for their work. I hope that some of you will be able to attend our Fundraising and Development Online Seminar this June, on three consecutive Wednesdays, which will help site teams start to think in more detail about this work.
Whether or not you can make the seminar, I thought I’d list a few of my favorite resources on NWP Connect to help you get started with thinking about and working together on fundraising this summer—or whenever you have time! These suggestions are just a small sample of the many resources that are available in the Fundraising section of the NWP Site Leaders Community. Be sure to check out the rest if you haven’t already!
This page contains valuable information for Writing Project sites that are just beginning their fundraising work. It includes helpful tips on working with your university’s development office, as well as a link to one of the best resources out there for researching foundations, Foundation Center Online. (Psst! Your local library may also have a subscription to this service that will grant you more detailed access to foundation info.) The page also contains the link to NWP’s Contribute page, where donors can select your site from a dropdown list to make a donation to directly benefit your local Writing Project work.
Community foundations are a perfect place to start looking for funds for your Writing Project site. Community foundations love to fund work that benefits the people who live and work in the region it serves—exactly what your Writing Project site does. Check out this great database of community foundations to find out which are nearest to you.
This workbook was originally developed for the 2011 Annual Meeting, and since then it has been used by teams of site leaders and individual teacher-leaders across the network who are looking to begin creating a plan for raising funds to support site work. In four chapters, the workbook will take you through a process of creating a comprehensive fundraising plan to suit your local needs and resources, as well as help you work through some the personal hang-ups that we all have about asking for money.
As you start to think about approaching new funders or donors, one of the most important things to have in your back pocket is your case for support—basically, what makes your work exciting, innovative, and worthy of funding. (The Fundraising Workbook will take you through a process to create a detailed case for support.) Since we don’t always have time to get into all the details when we run into potential supporters, it’s also helpful to have a concise version of your case, commonly referred to as an elevator pitch (or elevator speech). This is a 2-minute version of your case that you could tell someone on an elevator ride, before the doors open and you go your separate ways. Check out these two resources that will help you craft a winning pitch.
I don’t know about you, but I always find it helpful to understand the theory behind something new when I’m trying to wrap my head around actually doing it. I find this short article called “Why Donors Give” (from a pamphlet called Fearless Fundraising, courtesy of BoardSource) particularly helpful. Since most of us give money to things we care about, you may find that a lot of this information is common sense—which in itself is comforting. Much of what goes for individual donors also goes for other funders like foundations: we all want to give to causes that create positive change in the world, and have meaning (to us as individuals or, in the case of foundations, to the organization's mission or funding priorities).
Do you have other fundraising resources to share that have been useful to you? Tell us about them in the Comments, or write a blog post of your own to keep the conversation going. And good luck!