Fundraising FAQs from the National Children’s Alliance 2016 Leadership Conference

In early June I had the privilege of attending the National Children’s Alliance Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. This one-of-a-kind conference provides education, networking, and advocacy opportunities for directors, administrators, coordinators, and board members of Children’s Advocacy Centers.

While local CACs are well known for the quality care they provide serving child victims of abuse, giving them both the credibility and proven outcomes needed for successful fundraising initiatives, they are highly reliant on government funding. In fact, most receive about 99 percent of their funding from the federal government, and have a real need to diversify funding sources in order to ensure sustainability should federal dollars dry up. Diversifying their funding mix would also allow those CACs that would like to expand their services to include abuse prevention to do so, since government funding for preventative services is limited, and most CACs do not currently have the additional funding needed to expand in this area.

So how do you overcome these challenges? Following are some of the most frequently asked fundraising questions I encountered at the conference.

Question #1: We would love to be more actively involved in prevention activities, but how do we build a case for support for these new services?

The first thing you need to do is clearly define your programmatic goals and objectives from an Organizational Value Proposition® perspective, and then articulate that value into a clear Return on Investment (ROI) for funders. This is especially true for private-sector prospects.

The federal government provides you with more than enough data to help quantify the value of abuse-prevention services. For instance, you know that victims of child abuse are more likely to drop out of school, abuse alcohol and drugs, get divorced, not be able to hold jobs, commit suicide, etc. Using this information, CACs can help build the case that funds going toward prevention services will benefit society greatly in the long run.

Question #2: We rely on federal, state, and local grants to fund our activities. Our only private-sector funding comes from special events. How do we go about getting more private-sector funds?

While special events may be good for your marketing and cultivation efforts, they are not a great source for major funding – a subject we have addressed in previous blog posts.

A better approach to funding your strategic plan is to conduct a capital campaign. Many nonprofits believe that capital campaigns are only used for bricks-and-mortar facility construction or expansion, but they can also be used to fund programming, retire debt, create endowments, etc. By clearly outlining the impact of your strategic plan and communicating the value of your outcomes to potential investors (not “donors”), you’ll be able to effectively solicit and secure private-sector investments.

Question #3: How do we build a case for private-sector investment?

You can create a solid case for investment in the form of a draft prospectus, which can be taken to the private-sector community through a feasibility-analysis process. The purpose of that process is to uncover thoughts, concerns, and suggested refinements to the program of work, all of which will help to secure the future support needed in a capital campaign.

In our experience, three key elements to the success of a capital campaign are Credibility, Outcomes, and Fundraising Skills – the ingredients to what we call Asking Rights(TM). Most well-established CACs already have the Credibility. Next, you must determine what positive Outcomes you want to affect and build cases for programs that will achieve them. Finally, you must determine if you have the appropriate Fundraising Skills in-house or whether you will need to outsource campaign fundraising.