For the past ten months I have been taking the AmeriCorps VISTA Resource Development: Fundraising & Grant Writing online course. The following is from my final reflections assignment…
My time as a VISTA has both inspired and motivated to move forward with my dream of forming my own non-profit organization. In terms of resource development, there is so much that I have learned from this course that will be beneficial to my own work moving forward. When thinking about building up my organization’s capacity for resource development, in order to gain the trust of potential donors and supporters, I believe it is a necessity for the principles and standards my organization’s work is grounded in to be known. I believe it is also important that everyone who is a part of my organization is very much aware of the rights of our donors and supporters and our duty in recognizing their role in the success of the organization. Something that I plan on doing is providing visitors to my organization’s website access to the Donor’s Bill of Rights as well as the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards. Prior to this course, I did not know that the two existed, and it made me wonder if donors even knew. Transparency is critical to not only gaining the trust and support of potential financial donors, but also the communities that I wish to serve. Sharing this information will communicate a willingness to be held accountable to others.
Non-profit means exactly that – not for profit. So, it becomes important that people know that my organization understands that we are to put philanthropy before personal gain, and that we encourage colleagues to embrace and practice the ethical principles and standards of fundraising. It is important that potential donors know that we will always give appropriate acknowledgement and recognition of their support to our work. They must trust that we will always honor their right to privacy and will always disclose information that they will need in terms of what we have done with any funding we have received.
In order to maximize my organization’s fundraising activities, it will be important to communicate effectively and concisely with potential donors. This course also allowed me to understand the importance of reciprocity between an organization and donors when it comes to fundraising activities. To be effective, there must be give and take as well as mutual support. Having the opportunity to create sponsorship levels as one of the exercises, really hit home with me. While seeking support, what ways can I be creative in also supporting the work that my donors are doing? How can I also create greater visibility for them? I have also learned that planning is crucial and key – having a fundraising template in place. Specifying objectives and goals and having a timeline in place for how and when they will be met. I also learned that it is important that the
events themselves speak to and communicate the work being done through my organization. Everything must be cohesive – so approaching fundraising activities as extensions of my organization’s work – an opportunity to highlight the importance of that work – speaks to clarity in mission and vision of the organization.