Today's role-playing exercise was about asking for money. Participants sent me an email (see example below) to set up a meeting, then proceeded to ask me for a donation (to be completed within ten minutes of conversation, followed by five minutes of feedback from the rest of the participants), and then followed up with a thank you communication.
It was so great to run into you last night at NEC! I was reminded of our great class discussions last year and all the things I learned in your class. Thank you!
I'm writing to ask if you'd be willing to meet with me for 15 minutes sometime this week. I am so touched by the support you showed for Emissary Quartet with your donation of $100 last spring. I'd like to share with you how Emissary Quartet has grown in the last year and some of our current projects. I'd also like to ask for your continued financial support as we launch a competition for composers and plan a concert tour in New York City.
If you are wiling to meet, please let me know what times would be convenient for you. Mornings and evening weekdays are generally best for me.
Thanks so much!
Moving from the expense side of the ledger to the income side, the main takeaway about generating revenue for a nonprofit start-up is that it needs to be carefully planned in advance. Even if the details change (and they will because you'll be carefully monitoring your progress each month to be sure that your projections are, in fact, accurate), at least you are starting from the position of having a plan to diverge from in the first place. When paired with a 12-month calendar based on your fiscal year, the fundraising plan helps you break down your overall revenue goal into specific and more manageable (bite-sized) discrete chunks of work. Each "chunk" deserves its own timeline, strategy, and evaluation criteria... having fun yet?
From this morning's class in Providence, here's a back-of-the-envelope sketch of how you might begin to project the first two years of a fundraising plan for a new initiative.
We have spent the last few meetings learning about, drafting, and reviewing operating budgets. Initially, I asked everyone to create a Year One budget assuming income of $50,000. Most recently, the assignment was to create a three-year budget, showing what choices are made as the organization's budget doubles in size to $100,000. That's the thing about creating budgets. The process of thinking through a budget--and then the next year's budget and the one after that--forces you to look very concretely at how you are pursuing your mission in terms of dollars. What decisions will you make about how to allocate your limited resources? Which line items will you prioritize? What sounds great as a goal but will realistically need to be saved for a future year?
See a participant's three-year budget draft below.
Next stop, fundraising plans...
Sharing excerpts of the learning happening in "Building a Community-Based Residency"