Understanding who you are, why you should do or should not do this work, and establishing your potential as a leader.
Understanding the different ways community work is accomplished, and how to find what your project will address.
Identifying your project, planning, launching & managing it successfully.
Understanding the culture of your potential donors, supporters, and advocates, and how to best interact with them through your own cultural practices and worldview.
Identifying potential donors, approaching them, applying and sustaining relationships.
How to manage and use donated funds within established best practices, the expectations of your donors, Cultivate’s policies, and American laws.
How can good communication help you, and what methods are available to fundraise, raise awareness, connect with supporters, and gain a following for your work.
Free or low-cost options to help you advance your work.
How to measure & evaluate your impact.
GOVERNANCE, HUMAN RESOURCES & PROJECT MANAGEMENT
How to have an effective & efficient project; working with staff, volunteers & board members; and ensuring proper governance, accountability, and transparency.
Types of Community Development Work
In this section we will be focusing on various development objectives, categorized by development focus areas, in an attempt to highlight the complexity of this field and the many ways in which we can effect change in our communities. Below are a few examples of development focus areas to help open up the broad spectrum of development work. Look through these examples and start thinking of ways that you could implement one of these focus areas in your project, or if you already have a running project, see how your work fits into one or more of these focus areas.
Community work can be placed on a continuum that begins with relief and ends with advocacy.
One person or program is not able to address all the needs and struggles of a community, and each community will have various work in various stages. But always keep this continuum in mind; your work should always be working towards ending relief and advancing towards development and advocacy.
In this kind of work, different programs fall into different stages. Each stage is different and appropriate to the circumstances that a community is in. However, often we keep a program in a specific stage and do not realize that it is time to change or adapt the program, because the community has changed.
PRINCIPLES OF FUNDRAISING
Principle 2 - Impact
Every time you are fundraising, focus on the impact of your work. Our tendency is to want to tell people about the great needs that exist – how people are suffering, how difficult their life is, how much injustice your community faces. Though the needs you face are very real and very important, you must learn to not only talk about your needs but rather to focus your message on impact. There are many needs across this entire world, and each community has battles they fight. Even more, there are countless community development programs in the USA and all over the world who are fighting very difficult needs. In that sense, your program is no different than any other program. You have needs, others have needs. You struggle with poverty and injustices, others struggle with poverty and injustices. You have a community development program, others have community development programs. So what makes you any different?
Donors are constantly being asked to support very worthwhile programs that have many great needs. There is so much competition! How will you stand out? You must always tell the story of the impact you are having, or you will have in the future. In everything you do – whether an email, a letter, a video, an event, a social media post, a grant, or any other way you can ask someone for a donation – focus primarily on impact. You can still talk about the needs your community has. This is still important. We want people to have a good understanding of what the needs are – especially if they have never seen or experienced those needs in their own life. Before you can talk about impact, the person must understand the needs. But do not stop at the needs! Always move on towards the potential impact of your work. Help people understand what they are contributing towards. This is your vision statement. Impact is the MOST IMPORTANT piece. People will give money to something even if they don’t have all the details of how you do your work, but if they understand the potential impact of their money they will want to give. Focus on the impact!
When your project is starting, you will not yet have much impact to talk about. You will need to talk about you vision – what impact you are trying to have in the future. As your project grows, we will help you conduct impact assessments so you have more stories and data to share that shows your impact. In every way you fundraise, try to tell people the following:
- Why your program needs their help.
- What your program is doing in your community and why you are different than others.
- What impact your work is having or will have in the future.
Remember the problem and solutions trees you created in the Community Development course? This is where you use it! When you explain the needs in your community, do not just talk about the core problem (the trunk of your tree), but talk about all the root causes of that problem. Help the person see that this is a complex problem with many root causes. Show the person that you have taken the time to deeply assess this problem in your community, and that you know that there isn't one, simple solution. Then tell them how your program is working on one particular root cause.
Now move to the branches of the solutions tree. Here you will talk about the impact of your work - the effects that your program is having, or will have. So even if you do not yet have tangible impact in your community, you can show the donor that you know what to look for. You know what the impact will be if you do your job well.
Remember the problem and solutions trees we showed you earlier in the community development course?
Let's look at an example of how this can help you in fundraising. You are meeting with a potential donor. Your conversation can go in two ways.
1. Focusing on the problem tree.
"Mrs. Braga, thank you so much for meeting with me. I can tell you that our program needs your help. There are so many children in our community who are struggling to get a good primary education. These children are not passing their exams, the classrooms are overcrowded, and we even have kids in our community of school age who aren't going to school because their families cannot afford it. If these kids can't get a good primary education, their future is bleak. They will not finish school, and in the end won't be employed as adults. This perpetuates their cycle of poverty. Imagine if that was your own child? The need is so great, we need your help today. Can you support us so that we can educate kids?
2. Focusing on the solutions tree.
"Mrs. Braga, thank you so much for meeting with me. I want to share with you today about a great opportunity that exists. There are so many children in our community who are struggling to get a good primary education. We know that there are many problems contributing to this - families can't afford the fees, most of the kids are coming to school too hungry or with unfinished homework and therefore are not able to pass their exams, and the classrooms are too crowded to allow for the children to be properly educated. We know we can't fix everything, so we have chosen to focus our efforts on one intervention that we know we will have great success in. We are working with our local government and the local university to help teachers get the necessary license so that our primary schools are not lacking for well-qualified teachers. With enough teachers in a classroom, we know that the children will receive the support they need to advance to secondary school. This will have a tremendous effect in our community! We know that when we can keep kids in school, that will prevent them from having to beg in the streets, which leads to less crime for our community. Additionally, our businesses will thrive because they will have skilled employees, so think of the economic impact that will have on our city! We will have stronger, healthier, more stable families. This all begins with educating children, and we know that this will be deeply impacted by our work in getting qualified, licensed teachers into every classroom that needs them. Will you join us in this great opportunity? Your support will have a tremendous impact today and into the future of our community.
Do you see the difference? In the first scenario, you are asking the donor to feel sad or angry at the situation. You are appealing to their negative emotions and hope that they will have enough pity or compassion to make a donation. But the donor doesn't really have any idea how you are making the education problem any better. In the second scenario, you are still appeal to the donor's emotions, but this time it is focused on the opportunity to great change. You have shown specifically how your program is going to impact the community. You have walked the donor from the root causes to the outcomes that your program will have. This gives the donor more hope, rather than pity. Imagine if this was you being asked to make a donation, which message would you want to hear?
Remember, there is so much competition you are facing. This is a sad reality. We wish that organizations would be willing to work together, to collaborate more, but change is slow. You have to find a way to make your organization stand out. Focus on giving a message of hope, opportunity, and positive change, rather than hopelessness or overwhelming needs.