Q: What are your thoughts on having more than one "fundraising committee/board" for separate activities of a nonprofit? For example, our organization provides three different types of residential services and a school-based program. Our CEO wants to have three fundraising committees or boards that only focus on one area, rather than having one fundraising board who develops strategies. Thoughts?
Nancy in Arkansas
A: Honestly, Nancy, it's challenging enough for most nonprofits to manage one such committee or board. Dividing them by program makes work for the staff and can easily confuse donors. You need a simple, unified message.
The groups we train and coach tend to have one overall team working on raising unrestricted funding for all of their programs using the Benevon Model. Over time, this sustainable funding team becomes their main board committee related to fundraising. Because the focus of the model is to engage the community in the broader mission and impact of the organization, they do not divide their fundraising and community engagement efforts between their main programs.
The Point of Entry and Ask Event are both designed to connect your attendees to the broader impact of your work, using what we call "buckets." Imagine taking all of the programs and services that your organization offers and dividing them into one of three buckets. Each bucket is tied to an overall area of impact. Some programs may fit into more than one bucket, but nothing you do would be left out. Buckets for a large human services organization might be something like "supporting individuals, strengthening families, building community," while a clinic that provides free or low-cost health care might use "offering help, hope, and healing." The first gift that a donor who becomes engaged through the Benevon Model makes would be a general operating gift. This type of unrestricted funding allows your nonprofit to use the money where it is needed most.
Once a donor joins your Multiple-Year Giving Society, making a five-year pledge of $1,000 or more, you will continue to cultivate and steward the relationship, learning more about the bucket area of particular interest to that donor. Over time, you may ask them for a larger major gift, capital gift, or even restricted major gift based on that bucket area of interest, but their annual unrestricted pledge would be their ongoing gift each year. If your organization has had, say, an annual event that raises support for just one program, start by bringing those loyal donors through your Point of Entry Event, introducing them to everything you do. Bring them through the process organically, being sure to thank them for their past support of that program and listening for what else they love about what you do!