Fundraising Counsel / New York City Fundraising Consultant / Philanthropy / Organizational Culture / Strategy

Yes, I will pay for fundraising costs!

July 22, 2015 | Michael Taylor, Development Coordinator  

Do you find it a challenge to cover fundraising costs?  If you’re like other nonprofits, I’m sure you do – and you’re not alone.  Your current need is actually part of a longstanding underinvestment in the nonprofit sector.  In his book, Uncharitable, Dan Pallotta reminds us that charity and self-deprivation are not the same thing. It’s something he refers to as the first “misconception” of fundraising and reflects a long history of viewing fundraising as other than a professional activity worthy of investment.

However, that nonprofit need has been met for our clients for the past 20 years.  An anonymous major donor has annually underwritten a portion of our clients’ fundraising consultancy expenses.

Laurence met this donor back in 1995 and explained how hard it was for many of our clients to pay for fundraising. Since then, for 20 years the donor has awarded more than $3 million to our clients to underwrite our consultancy, supporting an average of 11 organizations each year with grants averaging $25,000.

One such LAPA client, Volunteers of America-Greater New York, had this to say about its anonymous grant: “When LAPA first explained that if we contracted with LAPA we would be eligible for this underwriting, I couldn’t believe my ears. I immediately used the $25K to ask my Board to match it, plus I asked our insurance vendor to do the same, and I was successful in securing the matches and thus reduced my fundraising expenses by $75,000.” (Richard Motta, CEO)

It’s certainly not an insignificant investment, nor is it a Band-Aid for nonprofit woes.  It’s a concrete means of addressing a real need: how to pay for fundraising. The anonymous donor’s grants are meant to be a “starter” that gets the rest of the revenue engine up and running. It’s a means to inspire our clients’ Board giving and, in turn, for them to demonstrate a new model of philanthropy. Requests to our anonymous donor are designated only for LAPA’s retainer clients.

How do you pay for your hard fundraising costs? Have you also been able to find underwriters? Let us know on the blog.

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