By Sara Lundenberger – Director of nonprofit consulting
Dot Org Solutions has two areas of focus – fundraising consulting and marketing. Last week, Kayleigh Fladung, our marketing and PR services manager, talked about our marketing assessments. Those assessments are one tool we use to evaluate a client’s marketing strategy and materials.
This week, I’ll give you a little more information on our fundraising assessments. These assessments are a great way to jump-start your fundraising initiatives. They are also useful when putting together strategic goals and fundraising plans for the year.
When I started at Dot Org in 2015, we offered a fundraising audit. It was very similar to what we do now, but our clients found the word audit to be “scary” and it didn’t really cover what we did. Once we started to think about what these are and what they can do for the nonprofits we serve, we started called them Fundraising Readiness Assessments™.
The goal of conducting a Fundraising Readiness Assessment™ is to look at everything your organization is doing from plans to strategy, database management to accounting practices, etc. to give an honest (sometimes too honest) assessment on your current fundraising activities. The question we try to answer is: Are you ready and able to raise more money?
Here are four reasons a Fundraising Readiness Assessment™ by Dot Org Solutions might be a good tool for your organization:
1. Sometimes, you need an outside perspective. You work every day at your organization and know the ins and outs. We don’t. We get to have an unbiased opinion on everything from who opens the mail and collects checks to what your annual fund appeal letters look like. We don’t always know the background, the politics or the personalities that inform your decisions every day and that makes it easy for us to give a new perspective on old problems. And, let’s be honest, a new voice can sometimes be the difference in making a change or accepting a new idea.
2. We look at everything – and I mean everything! We never assume anything about your organization. The checklist of items we ask for is extensive. This is not because we want to check things off a list, but because we want to learn as much about your organization as we can in a short amount of time. How quickly you can find your policies and if they have been updated recently can tell us a lot. We ask for some giving history and even that can give us a glimpse into not only how much you are raising and from where, but also how your database is set up. No two assessments are ever the same, because all nonprofits, even those with similar missions, are different.
3. We can ask the questions that you can’t. We interview staff, board members, volunteers and donors to get an idea of what they think is happening behind-the-scenes versus what is actually happening. Those interviews allow us to ask questions of board members or executive staff that you as a fundraiser couldn’t, or shouldn’t, ask. Because we are a third-party and discretion is key, we ask tough questions and get true, confidential answers. The answers we get provide a pretty clear roadmap of what bumps you are facing and help us come up with the best way to help you move forward.
4. We provide answers. Fundraising Readiness Assessments™ don’t provide you a fundraising plan or rewrite your policies. (Visit my most recent blog post on our fundraising consulting services to read more about how we can help you do both of those things and more.) What it does give you is a clear understanding of areas that you can grow, change or fix to raise more money for your organization. We are able to address all of the ideas and issues that you have been talking about for years, and some things you never thought of, in a clear and concise report, which we then present to board members, executive teams and staff. Our hope is that your organization takes our assessment and can begin to take actual steps to modify what you are currently doing to achieve better results.
We work with a lot of nonprofits in many different sectors. We use that experience, knowledge of best practices and keeping up with latest trends in fundraising to provide you a framework to move forward. Fundraising Readiness Assessments™ are a great first tool if your organization is new to fundraising or if you just need a little help in deciding where to go next to achieve your fundraising goals. Let us help you be more successful.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, contact me at [email protected] and let’s get started!
Want to learn more about our fundraising consulting services? Contact us at [email protected] or 330.247.2180.