Mo’ Money, Mo’ Funding

You want me to ask for money?!  When I first started working in the non-profit sector, I had no interest in fundraising or development.  The thought of asking someone for money was terrifying.  However, after holding multiple roles within the sector I discovered that everyone plays a role in development.


That’s why I attended last Thursday’s Fundraising Panel.  Five experts from the fundraising field shared their insider secrets. There was a wide range of attendees, from those interested in entering the field of fundraising to those currently in a fundraising role. Our speakers also came from a diverse background.

Kristina Watson, Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager at Save the Bay, talked about the importance of getting your “house in order” and creating a system for your organization to build relationships with potential funders.

IMG_2596.JPGAdam Bad Wound, Director of Foundation & Government Relations at NatureBridge, stressed overcoming the fear of asking for money.  When you find work that fits within your personal mission and passion, it is easier to connect with people whose passion aligns with yours.

Jamieson Bunn, Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations at the San Francisco Day School, emphasized the importance of keeping a detailed database of potential funders in order to maintain institutional knowledge and increase communication within a team. 

Sarah Hogan, Associate Program Officer at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, provided insight from the other side of fundraising, the funder.  She echoed her fellow panelists by highlighting the importance of developing the relationship first before asking for money.  Even if declined by a foundation, don’t be afraid to ask for other donors in the network or conferences that connect donor and funders around a certain issue. 

Greg Harrell-Edge, Partner at, described online fundraising trends and how to maximize our efforts online.  Online fundraising costs less and can be rolled out much quicker than a formal snail mail campaign.  Tell a story but be quick and be catchy.  For social media campaigns, utilize peer pressure by celebrating the campaign and highlighting someone who has made a contribution. 


Main take-aways from the event:

  • * It’s all about building an authentic relationship – listen to their interests, follow up and be persistent.
  • * However big or small, create a system and database (Salesforce, Raiser’s Edge, etc) to organize the process of coordinating relationship building.
  • * Don’t be afraid to ask for money - be frank and be honest.
  • * Embrace the future of fundraising – online fundraising (aka email campaign, social media, crowdfunding platforms, etc.).
  • * Develop storytelling skills and make sure it aligns with the funder’s mission.

(Photos by Moua Lo)

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