Fundraising for Projects – Ten Critical Success Factors

I recently took a call from a Director of Fundraising wanting our help with fundraising for projects. Her question was clear “If we engage you for six months, how much money can you raise?”

When that’s the first question, there can only really be one answer: “That depends”. And so the conversation went on and we explored together some of the basics of fundraising for projects.

It’s a conversation I’ve had a hundred times, which got me thinking: if I had to isolate the top factors that determine success in fundraising for projects, what would they be? Here are my top ten:

1. What do you need funding for? Like it or not, some propositions are just so much more compelling than others — they just are. They evoke much stronger emotions in more people and the arguments for giving are more obvious and logical than competing propositions.

2. A clear gap between need and provision. Some causes or projects are entirely worthy, but there is an awful lot being done already address the problem. The more pre-existing provision, the harder it is to justify the project. Conveying feeling and evoking emotions is essential. But you also need to logically justify the project and evidence your claims.

3. Are you best placed to deliver this? Ok so it’s a strong proposition. But you’ve got to make a strong case for support for your organisation being the right one to respond to the need. If you haven’t got the credentials, perhaps this isn’t the right project for you.

4. Collaboration and cooperation. Are you really the only organisation in your community working with the target group? How does your project complement or add to the work of others? Have you consulted them? Why go it alone if there are suitable project partners? Well managed collaborative working can reap rewards in terms of outcomes — and can increase your chances of attracting funding.

5. Honesty and transparency. Intelligent donors and funders may have just as good an idea of what’s happening in your area as you do. Even if they don’t, it’s not difficult for them to check. Don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. It’s wrong and it’s often counterproductive.

6. Could you fund the project or initiative from your own existing resources? If you could, and it’s such an exciting proposition — just do it! If you can’t, then you have the basis for asking others to invest in it.

7. Have you offered your existing donors and funders the opportunity to support the project? If not, why not? Who’s most likely to support this? Those that have supported your work in the past.

8. How will you measure the success or otherwise of the project? If you haven’t got an appropriate way of measuring outcomes, how will you know if the project was a success? How will external funders know whether they’ve invested their resources wisely?

9. How much time and finance are you investing in the project? If you want 100% of the funding to come from outside of your organisation, you’d better be able to justify it. Far better for the plan and budget to show your contribution — and that of other partners — before showing the amount you want external funders to invest.

Ten. Don’t expect one funder to cover all of the costs of the project. Yes it happens and it’s great when it does. But given that there is almost always more than one funder that is a good fit, why not share the love?

Eleven. How well is your organisation led and managed? Funders want evidence of good governance. Are systems and policies in place to ensure accountability? Do you have a good mix of skills and experience on your trustee board? Ultimately, is your organisation run on a sustainable basis?

Twelve. What will happen when the project finishes? Will it have become self-sustaining? If not, why not? How will learning be shared outside of your organisation?

Wait, did I say top TEN? I don’t know, we just can’t seem to help going the extra mile. If you need help to secure project funding, get in touch today and we’ll go the extra mile for you.