Fundraising: Where Do I Start?

Times are changing. In our present economy, nonprofit organizations that once relied on government and grant funding are looking to individual donors for a greater percent of their operating revenues.

Truthfully, if done right, building and nurturing a base of committed givers can provide a stable, long-term source of revenue.   It’s going to take some time and research but it will be well worth the effort.

Too many people have a “home run” mentality when it comes to fundraising; the notion that there’s some mysterious benefactor out there who’s going to drop a big gift in their lap that will fund their dreams. Sorry, people usually do not usually want to support someone they don’t know. It’s the ones who know you best and who already feel a tremendous amount of good will for you and affinity with your organization and its mission that are most likely to give you money.

If you want donations, start with the “low hanging fruit” — those who are within arm’s reach. Here are your hottest prospective donors, listed in order of the most likely to give:

1) Those who have already donated.   Compile a list of those who have given previously with names and contact information plus the amounts they gave.   Pay special attention to which projects or appeals they’ve responded to.   This will help you tailor the right approach to them.   Remember, since they’ve already demonstrated a willingness and a capacity to donate, they will probably do it again if asked appropriately!

2) Talk to board members about making regular gifts.   I recently talked with a board member who said, “You want me to donate?   Isn’t it enough for me to give my time and my advice?”   My response was, “Haven’t you heard ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'”   In other words, where we direct our money shows exactly what we truly care about in our lives.   Board members are intimately acquainted with your nonprofit and its needs. So, they ought to be the ones most likely to invest in it financially.

3) What about the friends and family members of your staff and board members?   The old adage goes, “People support people, not causes.”   Those who know us best are often excited to support those whom they care about and good causes in which we are involved. This could be done by simply asking staff and board members to provide you with names, “snail mail” addresses and email addresses.   Additionally, they could be encouraged to invite those same people to visit the organization in person or to attend a fund raising event.

4) Then there’s your volunteers.   Like the board member I just mentioned, some nonprofit leaders think, “They’re giving us their time. Isn’t that enough?”   Well, the fact that they care enough about your cause to actually get involved makes them among the most likely donors!   Of course, we don’t ever want to use a “hard sell” approach with volunteers, friends or family members.   Just don’t automatically assume they wouldn’t want to contribute.   We need to make sure they are given the opportunity to participate.   You might be surprised at what a good response you will receive!

5) People who have been truly helped by your work and those who have a loved one or friend who has been helped.   Have you saved all the letters of people who said they have been helped or blessed by your program’s services or your own writing or speaking?   Guess what, they are very likely to support you financially as well!

6) Lastly, how about individuals you have met face-to-face?   People who have been in your presence, seen your face, heard you speak and felt your passion and vision are also the most likely to give money to support your organization.     Making a donation is more of an emotional response than an intellectual one.   People love to give to people they have met and with whom they feel a close tie.   We live in a new age when it comes to charitable giving.   Younger donors want to get up close and personal with people they respect and admire – those who are doing things they really care about.   So, how about thinking of ways to get them on-site at your organization’s facilities?

Nothing can be more moving than actually seeing the people you serve and feeling their needs and watching you meet them firsthand every day. Finally, let me tell you about an essential tool for starting effective fund raising – Developing Your Case for Support by Timothy L. Seiler.   It is a workbook that will help you to gather and organize all of the critical information about your organization you will need to confidently ask people to give to your work.

Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 1)

The more time I spend with rescue mission recovery programs, the more I’ve become convinced that the most important gift we can give homeless addicts is community, a place to belong. Homelessness is a state of complete disaffiliation–being cut off from all meaningful and supportive human relationships.

Suc ­cessful residential recovery programs actually provide a supportive “family” environment where homeless addicts can examine their lives and take the difficult initial steps toward a new, sober, and productive life.

There are two other important communities that program participants must become involved with so the process of change begun at the mission continues after they leave. The first is the Church, the Body of Christ, where program graduates experi ­ence fellowship with other believers and spiritual nurture. The second is the recovering community where involvement with support groups for recovering addicts give them a place to continue personal growth through mutual sharing and encour ­agement with others who have overcome addiction.

Creating an Environment That Encourages Change

So, how is a supportive “family” atmosphere created in a mission? It takes a coordinated effort by mission staff members to ensure that a therapeutic or conducive environment is main ­tained in a residential facility. Attention to the following dynam ­ics will greatly encourage a sense of order and help create an atmosphere that encourages change.

A. Drug Free — There must be immediate and serious consequences for any use of alcohol and drugs by program partici ­pants. The normal procedure is dismissal from the program for at least 30 days, often asking participants to return to the tran ­sient area of the mission. This rule helps to create an attitude of seriousness among all participants. If program people know they have “one drunk in the bank” they will surely use it.

B. Stable – Clearly communicated rules and policies maintained on a very consistent basis are the key to program stability. This involves clear expectations regarding which behaviors are rewarded, and which are censured. Favoritism and disunity among staff members regarding program policies seriously dam ­ages the sense of stability.

C. Segregated — People who are working on recov ­ery and change must be separated from other homeless people who are not in the program. Separate eating times and sleeping areas creates a special “chemistry” among program participants. It allows them to experi ­ence a fellowship where they can encourage one another toward change and growth.

D. Emotionally Safe – A sure sign that a person is beginning the process of genuine recovery is the return of the emotional life. They begin feeling again, and much of what they feel is pain and grief. To continue to recover, they must feel supported and know that they are in an environment where they can safely and freely express the struggles they are experiencing.

E. Confidential — Personal information about clients must stay within the program and the staff members directly working with those involved in the program (the “treatment team”). This is essential to maintain the trust of program participants.

F. Real Listening — There is healing value in self-revelation. This is greatly encouraged when program participants discover that other people, especially staff members, are genuinely interested in their individual needs, hopes, and aspirations. In my opinion, if each participant cannot receive a one-on-one session with a staff member at least once a week, the program is seriously understaffed.

G. Respect– Program participants must be treated with dignity, despite how much denial they’ have or what sort of mess they have made of their lives. Home ­less people are still God’s unique creations and deserv ­ing of the respect and the love and the honor that they have simply for that if nothing else.

H. Individualized Attention – We can only be of real help to people when we know what their real needs are. This begins with special efforts toward a formal ­ized needs assessment. Then, using the information we’ve gathered, an individualized written plan for recovery can be developed. Establishing simple goals and objectives allows both staff and residents to see whether there is progress in the ef ­forts toward change and growth. This also communicates to program participants that fact that they are truly important to the program staff.   A rule of thumb: If you cannot provide at least a weekly one-on-one session with each program participant, you are seriously understaffed.

I. Every Activity Has Therapeutic Value — Most missions depend on long-term program participants to do much of the work to maintain their operations. Still, we must avoid giving program participants the feeling that they are being used. They need to know they are not just free labor, but that even the work they do has a therapeutic rationale that is also helping them at the same time. As you might imagine, none of these will be in place at your program by accident it is the responsibility of staff members and administrators to carefully watch over the therapeutic environment. Only by doing this can you create a place that motivates clients and promotes long-lasting change.


Helping the Children of Addicts and Alcoholics

Helping Children of Addicted ParensIn the US, twenty million children are expe ­riencing physical, verbal and emotional abuse from parents who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. This is tragic when we con ­sider that childhood is the foundation on which our entire lives are built.When a child’s efforts to bond with an addicted par ­ent are thwarted, the result is confusion and intense anxiety. In order to survive in a home devoid of healthy parental love, limits, and consistency, they must develop “survival skills” very early in life.

In a chaotic, dys ­functional family, the lack of external control through consistent loving discipline results in an inability to develop internal discipline and self controL They learn not to depend on their parents to meet their needs – instead, it is all up to themselves. And, because they can’t trust their own parents, they become generally suspicious and mistrustful of all human beings. Yet, they are defenseless against the projection of blame and often feel responsible for parents’ addiction. They be ­come “little adults” that feel compelled to accept responsibilities well beyond their years.

A. Understanding the Problems of Children from Addicted Families

One authority. on these matters, Dr. Tim Cermack, says children from addicted homes actually suffer from emotional and psycho ­logical symptoms that are best described as a combination of codependency and a variant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is most widely known as a malady afflicting Vietnam veterans, According to Dr. Cermack, PTSD “…occurs when people are subject to stresses of such intensity and nature that they clearly lie outside the range of normal human experiences. The effects are espe ­cially severe if the stress is caused by a series of traumatic events, and is of human origin. The effects are even more severe if the indi ­vidual under stress has rigid coping strategies, or if the person’s support system in ­cludes those who encourage denial of the stress.” *

Growing up in an alcoholic family is cer ­tainly traumatic. hi these homes, children experience a daily environment of inconsis ­tency, chaos, fear, abandonment, denial, and real or potential violence. Survival becomes a full-time job. PTSD also leads to a condition called “psychic numbing” experienced as a sense of estrangement and being detached to the point of feeling there is no place or group to which we belong. Emotions become con ­stricted, especially in the areas where inti ­macy, tenderness, and sexuality are involved. Is it any wonder that these children are eight times more likely to become addicts them ­selves or to marry an alcoholic or drug addict?

B. Common Struggles of Children from Alcoholic and Drug-Addicted Homes

  1. Guessing at what is normal.
  2. Difficulty having fun.
  3. Judging themselves mercilessly.
  4. Difficulty with emotional relationships.
  5. Feeling “different” from other people.
  6. Tendency to be impulsive.
  7. Either super responsible or super irre ­sponsible.
  8. Desperately seeking approval and af ­firma Lion.
  9. Suffering from chronic anxiety.
  10. Lacking self discipline.
  11. Compulsive liars.
  12. Suffering from a critical deficiency of self-respect.
  13. Fear and mistrust for authority figures.

C. Healing Begins hy “Breaking the Alco ­holic Family Rules”

Early intervention significantly lessens the life-long effects of a traumatic childhood. The way Christian workers can best help these   children is to lovingly assist them to “break the rules” of their dysfunctional fam ­ilies. These rules, according to Claudia Black in her book It will Never Happen to Me are “don’t trust, don’t feel, don’t talk,”

The first need of children from addicted fami ­lies is learn that they are just normal kids who have been trying to cope Ma extremely stress ­ful and chaotic environment. While their al ­coholic home is not normal, they are normal kids. Their biggest problem is usually not having anyone they trust with whom they can talk openly about how they feel and what they are experiencing. Opening up and shar ­ing from the heart in a safe atmosphere is a tremendously healing experience. We must make sure to provide time for such experi ­ences. Still, it may take quite a while to gain the trust of children from troubled families. Usually they need enough non-confrontive interaction with workers and the opportunity to observe them in action as they relate to others. Opening up can be extremely diffi ­cult, especially because they have learned their entire lives that they must protect their family’s secrets. They can feel like traitors, betraying their family and the illusion that everything is all right at home.

Children from addicted families have learned to survive by suppressing their emotions. They are told that their perceptions are wrong and that their feelings are not acceptable. So, we need to let them know that it’s OK to have feelings and that they won’t be rejected for having them.

D. Some Other Suggestions

  1. Learn more about alcohol and drug ad ­diction and its impact on children.
  2. Help them learn to take care of them ­selves and that it is OK to think about their own safety when faced with dan ­gerous situations.
  3. Help them to learn to have fun.
  4. Help them to learn from the Bible how God sees them. And that His love is unconditional, not performance-based.
  5. Talk about honesty and its rewards.
  6. Bring them to structured support groups where they can share their experiences with others.

* Timmen Cermack, MD, Primer on Adult Children of Alcoholics, HealthCommunications, Pompano Beach, FL, 1985