Staying Organised While Fundraising
Fundraising involves a lot of paper work, a lot of ideas, and a lot of action lists. You can easily become overwhelmed and lose track of the entire project if you allow yourself to become disorganised. Staying organised is key.
The best system of organisation depends on you. Financial software is ideal for some, while others prefer impeccable paper files. It does not matter which organising method you choose. What does matter is that you use it faithfully and stay organised. Among the items you will need to keep organised during fundraising:
Items to keep organised
Your donors may request a receipt for their donation. If you are registered as a tax deductible gift recipient, you will need to provide a receipt in the appropriate format. In some cases, donors may contact you during the year to request a copy of their receipt. Also, you will need to keep good records of the money donated for your Treasurer or Accountant.
Contact information, emergency information, and any other items of interest will need to be stored so that you can contact your workers or help them in case of an emergency.
You will need to file information about those who have donated to your fundraising - not only will you want to take care not to contact those people again too soon, but you will want to contact the same donors again after some time as they are likely to contribute again. You will need a very good organisational system to keep track of who should be contacted when. For each donor, you will want to keep contact information, amounts donated, times when the donor donated money, the donor’s preferred method of being contacted, and the time you should contact them again.
You need to file all the information you gather about potential donors and potential fundraising ideas. This information needs to be quickly accessible when you start fundraising in earnest.
You will want to keep information about other similar not-for-profits with successful fundraising ideas.
In a visible place, you will want to keep grant application deadlines so that you will be able to apply for all of the grants your group qualifies for. You will also want to keep copies of completed applications on file to help you with future applications.
For your records, you will want to keep track of any letters you send and the responses you get. You will want to keep letters from donors and from companies who are willing to help your fundraising efforts, for example.
You will need to file deeds or leases for your group’s space, licensing agreements, proof that your group is a registered not-for-profit organisation, and other legal papers that might be crucial at a later date.
Keeping your group’s records and ideas together will make it easier for you to see who needs to be doing what. You can also refer to earlier brainstorming sessions if you need to be reminded why a certain idea was turned down or why someone was scheduled for a specific task.
The operations of your not-for-profit
Not-for-profit groups have lots of logistical paper work - utility bills, legal bills, notices from government about changing laws, and so on. You need to keep these records together so that any disputes can be resolved quickly.
Keeping track of money is crucial in proving that your business is fundraising in a fair way and in order to prove that your group really is not-for-profit. Some charitable groups think that their records cannot be queried or audited, but this is not true. Keep excellent financial records and check them twice - a not-for-profit accused of misusing donor funds often has a terrible time trying to fundraise again. Keep track of every penny you spend on your group to offset any such unpleasant problems.
For a not-for-profit, keeping track of time is as important as keeping track of money. Keeping track of volunteer time can help you write accurate reference letters for your workers, and keeping track of time and money can help you see whether you could be using your time more productively in order to help more people.
Obviously, there are many records and much paperwork that needs to be tracked. Medium sized and larger not-for-profits often find that they require the help of an accountant and one or more office assistants to keep track of paper. Even in smaller not-for-profits, having one secretary or office manager can be a big help. One person should interact with all the incoming papers and information each day and should either file papers or act on them. Money spent and donated needs to be recorded accurately each day. Workers should always return papers to the same files after each use. A once-weekly meeting during fundraising can help keep papers and ideas organised.
If you cannot afford to have one person caring for your files and organisation, deal with papers on a daily basis to prevent information overload. Get a fundraising software package or use an Excel spreadsheet to help you keep track of donors, grant applications, and the other important details of not-for-profit fundraising.