by Cheyenne Cochrane, Guest Contributor
Warren Buffet is quoted as saying: “Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.”
This opinion shared by Mr. Buffett is what most fortune 500 companies and philanthropic individuals should know as well. You may have noticed that many companies and foundations have a handful of large, well-known organizations that they support to demonstrate their social responsibility. Problem is, they don’t seem interested in working with anyone else. Corporations and foundations with prescribed recipients can make it hard for new and smaller non- profit organizations to develop a strong, steady database of donors and supporters. With over one million non-profits in America championing hundreds of causes, donors have a surplus of options to choose from. There are a few things that your organization can do to increase visibility and gain support to maximize your organizational capacity.
Do your research
Staying current on trends in your area of focus can reveal an opportunity to propose your program or idea to just the right person. Who are the primary individuals or companies advocating for your cause? What is their track record of giving? Who are the primary decision makers? Learn as much as you can about those who share a similar vision or goal as your organization. Often times this information is available right on the company website but it can be hidden if you don’t know where to look. Search for key words and phrases like “Social” or “Corporate Responsibility”. Also, if you’re wondering how to submit a proposal, try typing the company name + the word “foundation” in a Google search and sift through the results.
Track your success
I meet so many people with awesome programs and initiatives, from education and health care, to homelessness and equal rights. It’s amazing how many groups are doing great things, even at a local level. You should always track and measure your success using facts and figures that can be depicted visually or anecdotally. Having your outcomes recorded in a way that can be measured and evaluated strengthens your validity and shows that you can produce outcomes. While you’re friends and family might invest in an idea, most philanthropic entities need proof that whatever you’re doing, WORKS.
Show me the Money! – No, literally, show me what your money looks like. Funders want to see what your organization looks like fiscally. Even if you have the most talented writers and a dynamic fundraising team, the numbers don’t lie. At some point, any company or foundation will want to see evidence that your organization is not mismanaging funds, and more importantly a fiscal portrait that reflects growth.
Make your info available
Once you’ve compiled all of your data, share it with the world! In today’s information age, the first place donors will look to get a quick glance of your organization is the web. On your quest for funding and support, lack of online presence is a huge red flag to potential donors. Most organizations with a large volunteer database and high frequency of individual contributions get there through a strong online and social media presence. Linking your Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts to your website is great to let potential funders know, ” Hey, we’re highly visible and people are interested in what we do.”
Securing a source of financial support for your organization may feel like the last step in an exhausting process, but it is only just the beginning. It is important to understand that this is the start of a critical partnership that requires nurturing through consistent communication. When donors decide to support an organization or cause, they are making a very important investment. Whether they’re giving $1 or $10,000, money doesn’t grow on tress, so they want to know that you’ve done what you said you were going to do with their money. Accountability is key is retaining your partnership, keeping the door open for opportunities to receive repeat funding in the future.
What are ways your organizations have kept track of your progress?
Cheyenne Cochrane is a millennial leader with a passion for connecting her peers through leadership development. As the Founder and CEO of Transcend Consulting, Cheyenne creates pathways and cultivates leadership through giving, development, and innovation. She is also a proud Chicagoan. Keep up with Cheyenne on Twitter @LivLifeLavishhh.