Development Categories – Systems and Streams

When you think of raising funds for your non profit organization, do you think in categories.  I suggest you think in terms of systems and revenue streams – and use these categories to develop goals and evaluation criteria.  May I suggest 5 key categories:

In addition to having great donor systems [data base, name acquisition procedures, giving statements, etc.], an organization must have an excellent and balanced approach to bringing in donations through 4 key streams:

Mail – Many faith based ministries send out 5-6 direct mail appeals to a donor list per year.  The ministry is mindful of building the donor base with qualified names.  The process of getting out a mail appeal includes: Theme identification, writing, graphic layout, printing, addressing, mailing, and tracking.  The approach of mailing multiple appeals per year is often replaced by conducting an annual campaign, which seeks to ask just once per year.  Because the organization has only one opportunity to secure a gift, the annual campaign approach involves more robust communication and follow-up.  Skill set needed includes the following profiles: Creative writing skills, time management, detail oriented, can recruit a team, creativity and assertiveness in name acquisition.

Nurture – Donor Nurture involves relationship building between ministry leaders and strategic donors.  Donor nurture seeks to bring value to the donor through involvement, acknowledgment, appreciation, trust building, and exposure to the ministry.  Often, donor nurture is the most important development initiative for faith based non-profit ministries.  Some key assumptions:

  • Ministry leaders see donors as partners in the ministry.
  • Ministry leaders are committed to building relationships with strategic donors.
  • Donor nurture should be a regular scheduled task for key leaders within the ministry.

Anyone who represents the ministry must embody the mission of the ministry and have the ability to speak to high capacity donors.  People give to mission and relationships; therefore, we must strengthen our communication of the mission and the depth of our relationships with potential generous donors.  Ministries initially work through the board networks of friends, relatives, professional associates, neighbors, and churches.

Events – Gathering a crowd in order to share the mission and cultivate synergy is an important part of ministry development.  Events often produce revenue, but mainly provide networking, exposure, and the foundation for partnership.  Event keys:

  1. Not just about revenue
  2. Good for exposure
  3. Should be repeatable / annual – develop a reputation, ease the task
  4. Do 1-2 high quality events

Grants – Foundations seek “letters of inquiry” and proposals from ministries that are a match with the mission and core values of the foundation.  The percentage of approved grants is 4% or 1 out of 25; therefore, ministries need to have a long term approach that involves completing good research, investigating relational connections, nurturing networks, and excellent proposals.

What categories would you add?  Or, offer you insights on any of the 5 categories:


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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