Michigan Women's Foundation, 17177 North Laurel Park Dr., Suite 445, Livonia, MI 48152
telephone: (734) 542-3946; fax: (734) 542-3952; http://comnet.org/mwf
Center for Women, 25 Sheldon Blvd., SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
telephone: (616) 742-2389; fax: (616) 459-8460

Michigan Women's Foundation
Women's Road Map
Special Issue : Fundraising Readiness
October 1997

Fundraising Readiness
Try Vision Planning for the 21st Century
6 Ways to Build a Top Staff

Fundraising Readiness:
How Does Your Agency Stack Up?
Brigette Sarabi

Hastily patching together a fundraising scheme to deal with some impending fiscal crisis is an all-too-common approach to an all- too-common problem. Unfortunately, however, donors don't write big checks just because your organization finds itself in a bind.

More probably, they'll wonder how you got in this fix in the first place. Poor management? Bad business practices? Ineptitude?

That's why the best place to start building a successful fundraising plan is from a position of strength, not desperation. Just as individuals should have a physical exam every now and then, organizations too need a regular check-up. The "Organizational Assets & Liabilities Checklist" is a tool to help accomplish that. It's an exercise you should perform before embarking on a full-scale fundraising campaign.

Start by establishing an ad hoc organizational assessment team that includes leadership from both staff and board. Make sure administrative, financial, and program people are included so that all sectors of the organization have some investment in the effort. Together, spend time going over the checklist and filling it out.

The simple format calls for yes-or-no answers, but don't worry if you occasionally find yourself somewhere in the middle (the dreaded "sort-of" column). That's okay; your answers will still point out areas that need attention.

After completing the checklist, you should have a pretty good picture of the organization's general health and business practices. This information can be used to guide your planning efforts.

It's a first step toward maximizing strengths and remedying weaknesses-making yourselves more attractive to prospective donors.


Do you have an annual budget, approved and monitored by the board, which includes all program and management expenses and all sources and uses of funds? YES NO

Does your agency prepare monthly financial statements which compare actual revenues and expenses to the approved budget? YES NO

Does your agency follow accounting practices which conform to standard practices? YES NO

Is an independent audit or review of the agency's financial condition conducted annually? YES NO

Is a written statement of the organization's financial position (e.g., a financial statement) available to potential funders and donors? YES NO

Can you identify which programs are running at a surplus or loss and why? YES NO

Can you identify your primary funding sources and whether or not they are secure for the next few years? YES NO

Do you differentiate between restricted and unrestricted income? YES NO Are you running a deficit? YES NO

If you have a deficit, do you have a plan to eliminate it within the next fiscal year? YES NO

If you have a surplus, is it unrestricted money and is it repeatable? YES NO Do you have a financial surplus? YES NO

Do you receive more than 30% of your operating budget from one source? YES NO If yes, is the money unrestricted? Yes NO

If yes, is this funding renewable over the mid- to long-term? YES NO


Do you have an adequate number of active board members? YES NO

Do you have board members who are active members of the community? YES NO

Does the board provide clear leadership within the organization? YES NO Does the board participate in fundraising? YES NO

Do board members have relationships that can help leverage additional resources for the organization? YES NO

Is the board stable? (e.g., is there orderly turnover of board members, with adequate training of new board members?) YES NO

Do you have a stable volunteer base? YES NO Is there a system for recruiting, training, and recognizing volunteers? YES NO

Do you effectively match the skills and interests of volunteers with the work to be done? YES NO

Are your volunteers trained to be effective "ambassadors" for your agency? YES NO

Do volunteers have relationships that can help leverage additional resources for the organization? YES NO

Can volunteers be used more effectively to meet the personnel needs of your organization? (e.g., if staff has been cut, can volunteers fill part or all of the gap?) YES NO

Do you have adequate staff to implement current programs? YES NO

Do you have adequate administrative and support staff? YES NO Do you have adequate fundraising staff? YES NO

Is there staff leadership that works effectively with the board to implement goals and objectives? YES NO

Do you have dynamic program staff who could assist in fundraising (as motivators, recruiters, speakers)? YES NO


Do you have documented evidence of community support?

Community leaders on board of directors? YES NO

Receive financial contributions from individuals? YES NO

Receive cash or in-kind donations from local businesses? YES NO

A large number of people accessing your services? YES NO

Recognition by the press, government, other agencies? YES NO

An active volunteer base involved with the agency? YES NO

Positive testimonials from clients, members, volunteers, etc.? YES NO

Have you had documented program success?

Can you demonstrate the results of the services you provide (e.,g., changes in your clients as a result of services)? YES NO

Is there continuity in the successful provision of these services (e.g., history plus track record)? YES NO

Is there evidence of good organizational health?

Is the organization financially stable? YES NO Does the board give money, as well as time, to the organization? YES NO

Are you getting funds from a diverse array of funders/donors? YES NO

Is there a continuing demand for your agency■s services? YES NO Are your board and staff well-qualified? YES NO

Do you work collaboratively with other agencies? YES NO Do you provide a unique service in your service area? YES NO

This article, written by Brigette Sarabi, is re-printed with permission from The Grantsmanship Center Magazine, Summer 1997.

Try Vision Planning for the 21st Century
by Louise Motoligin

If strategic planning has been the buzz of the 1980's and early '90's, is vision planning the new tool for this millennium? Vision planning means looking at societal and economic trends and strategically applying that knowledge to your organization's plan for the future.

Recommend strategic planning to some board members and you'll hear exclamations such as, "Don't bother---what a waste of time and money!". Some consulting firms and CEO's use the strategic- planning process for the wrong reasons. Many nonprofit board members come from corporations where they've had a bad experience with strategic planning. Some of these corporations have used it to justify downsizing or to support other predetermined management decisions, rather than guiding the organizations into the future.

In many cases, strategic planning has evolved into a process that focuses too much on poring over the old, with a little time spent on forecasting the new. Often, when a consultant asks staff to spend hours producing data for the analysis, that very data is used against the people who supplied it.

If there's one thing we can learn from the impact of technology, it is to educate ourselves to be flexible and creative. Vision planning does that. Facilitated sessions with board members and top staff identify trends and consider their implications on the organization■s mission. The end result is a unified and energized team of leaders looking forward with new solutions.

Should we abandon strategic planning? Absolutely not! But we should amend the process.

Organizations should:

By using the strategic-planning process for vision planning, nonprofit organizations will ensure their survival in the 21st century.

Written by Louise Motoligin. Ms. Motoligin is the director of Major Gifts and Fund Development Coordinator for the Michigan Women's Foundation. She is also the owner and principal of Collaborative Management Consultants, Inc. which provides training and consultation to the nonprofit community.

6 Ways to Build a Top Staff
Gene H. Chatham

To build a staff into a team that does the best possible job for the organization:

Source: Gene H. Chatham, writing in Association Source, Florida Society of Association Executives, 1211 Semoran Blvd., Casselbery, FL 32707, cited in communication briefings.

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