Shelagh Gastrow provides advisory services to the philanthropy sector, higher education advancement and non-profit sustainability. She works with individuals and families on how to integrate their wealth and their values into meaningful and effective philanthropy.  From 2002-2015 she was founder and executive director of Inyathelo and focused her efforts on strengthening civil society and universities through programmes to develop their financial sustainability whilst promoting philanthropy in SA. Her work has gained public recognition locally and internationally. Read more about her work HERE(Bio, Daily Maverick).

Below are some of the paraphrased questions asked and answered at the session:

Q. You mentioned that attracting money is a more successful fundraising model than asking for it.   How do you shift the focus from asking for money to attracting money?

Leadership is essential with the role of the leader being outward facing expressing and sharing the values of both the leader and the organisation. This is achieved by building and developing relationships with donors and potential donors; through networking; and through being a thought leader creating content that is widely accessed.

At the same time foundations these days are more concerned with reputation and governance than ever. Ensure that this is in order, so your organisation can be considered.

Q. Should the founder or director delegate the role of raising funds to a fundraiser?

The fundraiser can assist with strategy and administrative requirements,  however the relationship and connection must be between the organisations leader and the donor. Donors want the relationship with the director, the person who leads and runs the organisation. Also remember, if a fundraiser holds the relationship, they could then take that relationship (and that funding source) with them as they move on.

Q.What is the best approach to proposal writing?

Ensure that you are targeting a donor that is strategically or personally interested in your area of impact. Do the research. Then approach the donor for a conversation first, find out what they are looking for –  and then write the proposal.

Q. How do you balance the work of developing a social enterprise  (product or service) and doing the work with that of trying to raise funds. E.G. developing an app?

This is always a tricky balance. In this situation seed funding may be required rather than a grant.

Q. The word ‘sustainability’ what does it mean? When donors want to see sustainability – what do we show them?

Perhaps sustainability should rather be looked at as ‘resilience’. What can an organisation do to ensure that it survives through hard times.

The questions to ask is – How do we ensure we are here in 10 yrs time? A strategy should include multi donor grants (do not rely on one donor); requesting or locking in multi year grants; building reserves (this can include owning you own property); building systems that hold value; succession planning.

Q. What do we say when a donor categorically states that they won’t fund salaries?

Many foundations are beginning to understand that their funding should make provision for the overheads and operational costs of the grantee organisation. After all, who pays for the person that writes the reports, conducts the surveys, or even answers the phone – all resources that are used in the delivery of the project.  A 10% administration fee definitely does not start to cover the salaried costs of the project (who even came up with this!). Have this discussion with your donors,  challenge them. Funding must include the core costs to deliver a programme, and this most often includes salaries.

Q. Is grassroots crowdfunding-style fundraising a productive fundraising strategy?

Grassroots fundraising is an expensive process to kick off, as this requires strong support systems where data is key, and needs to be 100% correct. This strategy can take 3 – 4 years to show a profit, but definitely has value and can lead to bequests and other larger sums. It is important to set achievable goals that an organisation can afford to maintain.  A good tip worth noting is that once a debit order is set up, it is less likely to be cancelled.

Q. What is the role of a non-profit board in regards to fundraising?

The board is not specifically required to act in a fundraising capacity, but can play an important role in opening doors to their contacts for the professional leadership to assist in growing fundraising efforts. A good board will also act as ambassadors of the organisations and champion it and its values and work in their professional networks and social circles.

Q. When building a website, what key information are donors looking for?

Apart from all the standard information about the organisation, its projects, impact and more, it is essential to include: annual financial statements, annual reports, board member profiles, management profiles, donor lists (as appropriate). Consider including short, meaningful quotes from donors that highlight the alignment with their and the organisations values.