Wiki Education Foundation/Quarterly reviews/2014-Q1 Fundraising
The following are notes from the Quarterly Review Meeting for the Wiki Education Foundation's Sr. Director of Fundraising & Partnerships Sara Crouse on September 30, 2014.
Present: Sara Crouse, LiAnna Davis, Jami Mathewson, Helaine Blumenthal, Eryk Salvaggio, Bill Gong, Frank Schulenburg
Participating remotely: Sage Ross
Please keep in mind that these minutes are mostly a rough transcript of what was said at the meeting, rather than a source of authoritative information. Consider referring to the presentation slides, blog posts, press releases, and other official material.
Frank introduction: Why we do this: Don’t work in silos, learn more about what others in the organization are working on. Also do it to be accountable to the community, our funders, etc. – everyone can read the notes and follow what we’re doing. If there’s something they’re concerned about, they can leave us a message. Another reason to do them is to identify roadblocks – feedback loop for Frank and others in the organization. So far, he’s been very happy with quarterly reviews.
Sara’s title: Fun-raising and Friendships, because she thinks it’s fun, and our funders are our friends.
Three categories of slides: Activities, Roadblocks, and Q&A
- Where we’ve been: infancy (in terms of fundraising — our programs have been going on before fundraising)
- Where we are: crawling and starting to walk
- Next year: toddlerhood
- Fundraising & you!
- Interrogation, deliberation, and groupthink
- (potential) earned income
How do we start? Low-hanging fruit, but keep long-term vision in mind.
Method: Moves Management — a best practices methodology for fundraising and relationship building. We identify prospects, then research, plan, cultivate, ask, receive donation, stewardship.
- Identify individuals through networks of board members and others
- Keep ear to ground, hear about someone who has given money to like-minded organization. Tap into networks we have to find a connection to people to get introductions. Figure out what entity through which that organization gives, connect with employees if need be, etc.
- Individuals who also give through community trusts. A lot of donors give anonymously this way.
- What they give, when they give, and KEY: why they give.
- Take to lunch, send holiday card, invite to office, get them to engage on a deeper level with the work we’re doing.
- The amount of time from first contact with person or organization to receipt of donation or grant depends on the person or organization.
- No sometimes means not now, and no sometimes means go away forever. We want to only get the first nos.
- Follow up is so important.
- Someone gives.
- Keeping people engaged, involved in what we’re doing
- Annual report, inviting them to events, checking in with people, etc.
- Hoping that they’ll go back to the cultivation stage the following year.
- Foundation Directory Online - list of foundation work in online database.
- We luckily have good contacts through our existing networks and our funders.
- Some organizations do Letters of Intent; we are hoping to skip that step with some foundations.
- Need to get far in advance. Can take one year (or longer) from first point of contact to receiving funds. Can be more transparent process than working with individuals (which is nuanced); program officers will tell you how much money they have to give. Rare for funding not to come through if you get to the phase of submitting proposal. Work closely with program officer to make sure proposal is aligned; they bring it to their board for approval.
- Talk to them on the phone, meet, present, they say they think we can do that, how much and what timing.
- Back and forth on proposal development.
- Time grant submission and receipt of funds varies.
- Reporting phase
- After you’ve received that funding, ensure you stick to reporting schedule and inform funder if there are major changes to plan as soon as you know.
- Not our sweet spot at this time save for a few prospects.
- Which department is giving
- What types of activities are more likely to be supported (events, other places they can get their name plastered around, PR)
- Corporate foundations — generally operate like other foundations, but funded by company itself. Process is often similar to regular foundation.
Jami: would corporations support specific things at universities?
Sara: mostly capital projects (get name on building) or R&D. Anything that’s sponsor-able.
Frank: questions to ask when considering funding from corporations: how much control do we want to have when it comes to someone using our name? If there’s a problem (i.e. PR), who is responsible?
Jami: how can we get grants to fund positions (i.e. fellows/Ambassadors) to support classroom program at parter institutions?
Sara: best bet for this would likely be a foundation (not corporation). and rather than receiving lots of small grants from several entities, we could seek one major grant, fund people at all partner universities. This could be preceded by a small grant to both engage a new funder and "pilot" the idea (say, supporting fellows at 2-3 universities) with them, learn, improve process, then get large follow-on grant from same funder.
Bill: Maybe this could be funded through alumni association?
[Discussion about alumni associations and potential to be an option to which alumni donors allocate funds]
Sara: the development of giving opportunities (i.e. endowed chairs, memorial funds, etc.) at universities requires navigating university administration. To be a "check box" on the alumni association donation form, it takes many years.
2. Contacts & Connections
3. A preliminary model
- Internal planning and tools
- track contacts for individuals and foundations
- prospect review
- every other week, review prospects, both individuals and foundations. Set out next steps to move the prospect forward in the cycle. Critical for driving relationships forward. Documenting these in the database is critical. Having historical records is super important.
- of activities, 3-month outlook related to fundraising. Implicates resources and people across the organization.
- Sara will add reports calendar to google to share with all of us so we know. She’ll share timeline for what information is need from whom and when.
- External/donor communications
- printed materials
- one-sheet about the organization
- program brochures
- LiAnna will send Sara the talking points that she’s developed.
- important for transparency’s sake.
- resources, blog posts are all crucial, but so is basic information about the organization.
- standard templates/best practices
- acknowledgement letters for donors, other basic best practices in fundraising.
- having the organization recognized by 3rd party entities as a good organization (GuideStar, Charity Navigator)
- Preconditions/donor communications
Intangibles that are necessary for fundraising
- Stories of impact
- blog posts
- historically we’ve been very good at this
- EVALUATION: metrics and clear objectives
- funders really care that you are consistently evaluating learning from mistakes and measuring what you’re doing toward your objectives.
- historically we’ve also been very good at this: monthly reports, data-driven, tracking and measuring a lot of different things.
- clear objectives. What are our objectives? Not just program impact but all areas of the organization.
- Known audience
- Research piece: speak to different peoples’ interests. Public campaign is a different kind of communication as well.
- Case for support
- We have several; articulating them in ways that will bring in general funds will be critical for us. For each funder, the case may be different. Get out in front of these rather than responding when someone asks.
- Giving opportunities/a framework
- Menu of things (not restricted grants), but opportunities to support various programs we do or specific universities we work with. Tailored messages/options/reasons to support to us.
- better to communicate mistakes.
- Consistency and alignment with regard to messaging
- We should have a session on how we talk about the organization
Contacts & Connections
We should all think about tapping into our networks for support!
- ED & staff
- Friends of friends
- Social networks
A preliminary model
- Preconditions for success
- Needs analysis
- We’ve done this informally — we know how much we need to raise this fiscal year and by when.
- SWOT analysis
- what roadblocks might you have down the line
- Resource analysis
- what staff do we need to get fundraising off the ground?
- Basic long-term outlook (3 years out)
- what our funding model and work might look like, 3 years from now? We agree we won’t be a huge organization. Some growth may be driven by fundraising opportunities but we should be careful: a one-off gift to fund a new position is not a viable path to sustainability (therefore, hire contractor rather than a permanent position.)
- Internal communications
- No silos!
- Strong internal communication is really important.
- Shared vision & strategy
- Willing board & leadership
- to achieve what you set out to do, it’s critical to have board and ED on our side, and we do. The board is well connected and eager to fundraise, as is Frank, which is good!
- For us
- Bar chart: What is the appropriate balance between individual/foundations/corporate/earned income now, and down the line?
- Frank: should we have this conversation this year?
- Sara: Yes. Especially the question around earned income.
- Frank: Are we ready to present this at the board meeting in November?
- Sara: We could do a preliminary version by then.
- Pyramid: How do we think about the number of donors we need at each level, given diversification and our current donors?
- Formulas for number of prospects needed for every level of the cultivation relationship to ensure you get the amount of funding you need.
- Ratio: typically we need ~3-4x the number of prospects per donation at each giving level.
- Other planning tools also available.
On the horizon
- Visit to NY (Frank and Sara) this fall.
- Event where one funder brings all other potential funders together; great way to build relationships (but stressful), maybe around March.
- Create donor policy and donor process.
- Important that we can’t tie ourselves to Wikipedia when not referencing our programmatic work, since we aren’t an affiliated Wikimedia entity.
Frank: really good review. important to know what’s going on, programs people knowing what’s going on in fundraising is important too.