Skip to content

But when will we start seeing the money?

May 9, 2010

It’s a legitimate question. Anyone who is running a business needs to project a return on investment. It’s as true for nonprofit businesses as it is for any other. Unfortunately, it’s also one that most people in fundraising try to avoid at all costs. Ultimately, an answer must be forthcoming.

While the answer is always “it depends”, few executives or boards worth their salt will (should!) accept this response. At the end of the day, they need to set income expectations. While no one can guarantee how long fundraising will take, over the years we have noticed somewhat consistent ranges emerge depending on the circumstances and types of activities pursued. Under ideal circumstances the following ranges are a good place to start for planning purposes:

  • Individual Donors—Lacking firm giving cycles and bureaucracy common to other sources, individual fundraising can yield results in as little as one to two months, and in some cases, even less time. “Major donors”, however, typically require as much as 18 months of cultivation before yielding results.
  • Corporate Donors—Beset with layers of bureaucracy, fiscal calendars and copious requests from multiple charities, corporate fundraising—with persistence and good timing—can begin paying dividends in as little as 2 to 3 months.
  • Foundations—Time-consuming, laborious and exacting, grant writing is often difficult and slow. Assuming common grant content is up to date and application deadlines are near, funding from grants can be achieved in 3 to 6 months, but often requires more time.

Nonprofit fundraising is a never-ending pursuit. While hard work and “pounding the pavement” are the biggest determinants of success, other factors include the amount of time dedicated to the effort, the general economic environment, the cause’s popularity, and the proximity and public awareness of similar or competing organizations.

What types of turn time have you experienced? What were the circumstances?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: