can be a powerful and effective tool for accessing financial resources
cultivating relationships that help Neighborhood Networks centers
and consortia become more self-sufficient and sustain their programs
or the programs at their members' centers. For a Neighborhood Networks
center or consortium to achieve self-sufficiency, the organization
must tap into the financial resources that exist within its community.
a Fundraising Program
your organization is carrying out its first fundraising project
or beginning a new initiative in an established fundraising program,
always start your fundraising campaign in the same way--by asking
those closest to your organization for support.
Picture your center or consortium as a dartboard. In the center
is your board of directors and in separate, concentric circles moving
away from the center are staff and volunteers, vendors, community
businesses and individuals, and finally foundations.
all Neighborhood Networks centers and consortia will have the same
circles. However many circles your organization may have, always
seek support from those who are closest. They are the most likely
donors, and are essential to building additional support. As you
move away from those closest to your organization, it will take
more time to convince each potential funding source to support your
If you approach someone who is unfamiliar with your organization,
one of the first questions they will ask is, "What other sources
of funding do you have?" They will look to see if those with a stake
in the organization have come forward with support. The goal is
not to raise a great deal of funds from those closest to your organization,
but rather to build a high percentage of participation at each level.
This show of support from stakeholders can help convince potential
funders that your organization is dedicated to the initiative and
Out to Vendors
you have contacted those closest to your center or your consortium
for support, reach out to the vendors with whom your organization
already does business. Some have policies against giving to organizations
with which they already do business, but some do not. The bottom
line is that it is always worthwhile to ask. Sometimes you will
be surprised to find that contacting a vendor may lead to a gift
from a larger corporate foundation. Other times it may lead to a
reduction in price for services or products you already receive
from the vendor. In either instance, more funds will be available
for your center or consortium to use to work toward its mission.
Business and Community Leaders
businesses and community leaders have the next closest stake in
your organization and should be contacted next. Present the value
of your work in the community and be prepared to discuss ways that
you can help publicize their generosity to the local community.
While philanthropy is a primary motivation, businesses and politicians
are pleased to have opportunities for good public relations.
Funding from Local and National Foundations
foundations should be approached with grant proposals. Start with
local foundations first before moving on to national foundations.
recent years, letters of inquiry have become an important part of
the fundraising process. Many foundations now prefer that funding
requests be submitted first in a letter format instead of a full
proposal. Others are using preliminary letters of inquiry to predetermine
if they have an interest in a project before accepting a full proposal.
In either instance, it is important to recognize that a well-written
letter of inquiry is crucial to securing funding for your project.
An effective letter of inquiry is often more difficult to write
than a full proposal.
letter of inquiry should be brief-no more than three pages-and must
be a succinct but thorough presentation of the needs or problems
you have identified, the proposed solution, and your organization's
qualifications for implementing that solution.
letter of inquiry should include the following:
||An introduction. |
||A description of your organization. |
||A statement of need and your methodology for
meeting the need. |
||A brief discussion of other funding sources.
||A final summary. |
in mind that your organization should make personal contact whenever
possible. Often, simply contacting a foundation by phone can be
an effective way to start a relationship between your organization
and a potential funder and will plant a seed that can germinate
and grow once a letter of inquiry and proposal are submitted.
events can be an effective means of attaining financial resources
for your Neighborhood Networks center or consortium. When planning
a special fundraising event, remember that the event should fit
your cause. Be creative, and consider an event or venue that would
interest your particular constituency group. Decide what your financial
goals are and begin to calculate your potential revenue sources.
Set your sights high but not so high that those you want to get
involved will not be able to participate. Consider who can help
underwrite and sponsor your event. By donating products and services,
they can help defray the out-of-pocket costs to your center or consortium
and increase the profitability of the event.
fundraising programs provide more than just funds--they also provide
the opportunity to promote a positive image of your organization
and its projects to the public. Financial resources are essential
to the sustainability of any Neighborhood Networks center or consortium,
but establishing a good reputation in your surrounding community
can also go a long way toward increasing sustainability and self-sufficiency.
Fundraising special events can help raise awareness about the mission
of the organization to those who may be unfamiliar with its work.
planning a special fundraising event, remember that the event should
fit your cause. Consider an event or venue that would interest your
particular constituency group. Your overall goal should be planned
upfront. Are you trying to raise money, awareness, or both? If your
main priority is raising money, your organization should place special
emphasis on planning the budget for the event.
Benefits of Fundraising Events
the most valuable resource available to any Neighborhood Networks
center or consortium is the surrounding community. To carry out
successful fundraising campaigns, your organization must begin to
develop relationships with people in your community. No matter what
the fundraising project, be prepared to prove that you have done
all you can with the local resources you have before seeking additional
support from afar. As you build relationships with funders, ask
those who make gifts to also become fundraisers by recommending
others who may offer support or open doors for Neighborhood Networks
centers and consortia.
following Web sites offer information about fundraising strategies
Services Online--Fundraising Resources
on Local and National Foundations:
for Online Fundraising:
For Good--Online Fundraising Tool
Online Fundraising Primer