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April 4, 2018

Out on a Limb II: What to Put in Your Case for Fundraising Investment

Two weeks ago, we wrote a post about looking for fundraising investment opportunities. It’s really one of the most critical things you can do as a fundraiser.

Indeed, it’s important to keep the annual appeal going and submit your grants on time, but to really make your fundraising grow and expand the great work your organization does, you really need to be able to identify where an investment of funds would make a difference. And you need to be able to build that case for investment.

So, let’s say you’ve found an investment opportunity. How should you present it? What would you need to take to your CEO and Board? Here are the key components:

Definition: Consider your audience and be sure to define specifically what you are proposing so that senior managers and board members can understand and picture it. Be descriptive and try to use success stories if you have some.

 The Trajectory: Be sure to include the story of how you came to identify this opportunity. How did the program or initiative evolve? How did it come to be that this initiative gained traction? Definitely include numbers in the story – what’s the financial path of growth that led you here?

Strategy Fit: How does this opportunity fit with your overall fundraising strategy? Is this a brand new piece of work or is it something that builds on what you’re already doing? How does it support the overall organizational strategy? Does it expand influence and awareness? Does it support program work in some way?

Return on Investment calculation: This is a must! Have an annual return on investment calculation that covers the length of the investment, but that shows an annual and a cumulative ROI calculation so that people can see what the return (or net investment) is on both a yearly and long-term basis. There may be an up-front investment needed where the first couple or even few years is net-negative. But show how the investment will reap returns over time.

External trends and best practices: It’s always good to add some information about how other organizations – especially those that work in your organization’s area of interest – are making money by making similar investments. Get support for your case from articles, colleagues, and consultants if possible.

Resources Required: You have to be very specific about what exactly is needed in order for this opportunity to thrive. It may be just money, but more likely it’s more than that. You may need support from communications, finance, the CEO or even the board and you want to make that clear up front.

Timeline: This is a timeline that is beyond your return on investment calculation. It’s a timeline of activities that need to happen in the order they need to happen. This is critical for planning as well as for cash flow.

Next step: Once you’ve brilliantly made your case, be sure to seal the deal by letting decision makers know that you have a definite next step.

In business, it’s an assumed truism that investment is necessary to expand and grow. This is no less true in the nonprofit sector. But it’s up to us as fundraising to make the case and fearlessly present it as what we think is the right path.

Be brave! Take your case for fundraising investment to your board today. And if you need some help, let us know. We’re always here to support you!

 

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