How to Organize for New Funding Opportunities

Dan Charobee

Dan Charobee

It is surprising to see how often new funding is overlooked, ignored, and misinterpreted. Some nonprofits see a constant need for new funding; others rely on one or several sources and may reach out to supplement that for special program, equipment, and facility needs. In today’s economy, I ‘m surprised to get calls from funders saying they received little or no response to their request for proposals.

Most opportunities are missed because a nonprofit is not organized or feels unprepared for the proposal . While, the executive director is ultimately responsible and must understand the objectives and strategies as well as basic guidelines for fundraising, a little organization can go a long way. In 1984, Fred Mitchell published a lead article in The Advisor for small and midsize agencies. Here is an updated list of ways to organize:

 The fundraising committee operates under the chairmanship of one of the directors or board member. 

  •  Advantages: Committee can pull people from a variety of areas. Committee can take a comprehensive look at sectors of opportunity.
  • Disadvantages: Coordinating each member’s assignment and activities. Conflicts with members other activities.

One board member or principal handles new fund development.

  • Advantages: Small organization can participate in fundraising. Person most familiar with the organization acts as a clearing house and sees to it that there is a distinct plan for getting additional funds.
  • Disadvantages: Approach can be subjective, based on personal experience rather than the strengths of the nonprofit.

No special person assigned. Nonprofit responds when opportunities arise. 

  • Advantages: More focus on other activities of the organization.
  • Disadvantages: Disjointed effort when the need/opportunity arises. Unfamiliarity with the process, timing, and availability of funding.

Staff member works exclusively on developing new funds. 

  • Advantages: Person integral to the nonprofit develops expertise in working with funders, developing relationships, practices and procedures.
  • Disadvantages: Staff member may become isolated from other areas of the nonprofit, having to fend for themselves. 

Contracting out fundraising activities. 

  • Advantages: Professional presentation of program. Expertise in developing opportunities. 
  • Disadvantages: Outside firm is representing the organization. Contract management may become complicated. 

Think about your new funding strategy. Is it organized and manageable? Does it give you the ability to meet the needs of your mission? Is it part of your strategic plan?

 Author:  Dan Charobee, Executive Coaches of Ornage County,