Author, coach, copy-writer, nonprofit marketing consultant and political junkie, Pamela is the author of “Five Days to Foundation Grants”  and  the creator of Simple Development Systems, the only online coaching program created for the overwhelmed fundraiser in the one-person marketing and development shop.

Pam segued from six years working in programming and communications at a regional grantmaking foundation to the world of fundraising in 2001.  In her first position as a 15-hour a week development director for an agency with a $3 million dollar budget, she increased individual giving by 25% – while reducing costs by 31% – and increased foundation funding by an astonishing 93%! She’s raised over $10 million in funding since then and has been positioning small nonprofit organizations on the path to sustainable funding ever since  with her “Simple Development Systems” of donor-centric fundraising methods.

With an eclectic 20 year background in politics, sales, marketing and philanthropy, Pamela’s greatest satisfaction lies in teaching the small community-based nonprofits how to, in her words,  “market like the big boys” with limited time and resources.

How Simple Development Systems Will Create Sustainable Funding

In the past six months my daughter has lost 45 pounds. She watches her diet, runs several times a week (she’s surpassed me – a runner or over 30 years – in that department!) and looks and feels amazing.

The other day I suggested to her that her experience would be prime fodder for a book, even an e-book, to help others struggling with their weight. After all, she has been struggling with her weight for over ten years and seems to have hit upon the perfect solution!

“Are you kidding mom?” she responded. “I lost this weight through diet and exercise! It was hard work! No one wants to hear that! Everyone wants a quick fix or a pill …”

You know what?

She’s right.

Lately it’s occurred to me that many of us in the field of nonprofit fundraising have the same mindset.

Whenever I’ve met with potential clients, I always hear the same questions or concerns:
“What about a signature event?”
“How do you get major donors?”
“How do we use social media to raise money?”
“We tried grants a few years ago and it didn’t work …”

As Charlie Brown used to say: “Argh!”

What I have found, in my 14 years working in the nonprofit arena, is that organizations who commit to their development in the same way that they commit to their mission, and who establish sound fundraising systems will always have the tools at their disposal for sustainable funding.

Great development is all about systems and relationship-building. There is no magic pill. There isn’t one single technique or tactic or trick that will set your organization on the path to sustainability.

Nonprofit organizations need tried and true systems – systems for:

And the backbone of all these systems is a strong case statement presented with engaging story telling.

An organization doesn’t “try” grants one year and decide it doesn’t work! You’ve got to engage the foundations, reapply, research on a consistent basis and steward the grants that you have received well.

After all, you wouldn’t go the gym once, decide exercise didn’t “work” and never return would you?

Repeat my mantra: systems and relationships, systems and relationships, systems and relationships …


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Posted on 16 November 2011

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Will Marlow says:

    Great post, Pamela. You’re right on. My area is the midsize donor segment, and the steady work it takes to cultivate a base of grassroots donors will pay dividends beyond the dollar value attached. That is, as the economic downturn has shown, the grassroots donor base is possibly the most stable source of funding. It’s not easy to acquire (many organizations get most of their funding from a mix of government funding and major gifts), but once you get the commitment of the grassroots, you are unlikely to lose a significant number of them in any one year or after any one event.

    In other words, there is a positive flipside to the slow, incremental process of acquisition, and that’s the fact that any losses will be incremental too.

  2. Alena says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  3. Marian says:

    Your daughter is right. No one would like to undergo too much sacrifice just to have a great body. I mean anything goes, even towards money making, etc. All people wants to get everything in the most easiest way.

  4. Charles | Non-Profit Websites by Cozality says:

    Great post, Pamela. So true. And let’s not forget about websites, which you did mention. 🙂 Some people think they can throw some money at building a website and then their work is done and they are automatically successful online. We have sometimes had to explain that the reality is that throwing money at web design and development will not mean that there will not be any work to do when the site goes online, but rather, done well, that the work to do will be less technically demanding and more considerate of the actual expertise of the communication professionals a nonprofit is already working with. The website should be a tool to be used by people. A feature-rich website is great—if it provides more opportunities to connect with constituents in ways that are increasingly meaningful—but people will always be needed to create and manage quality content and relationships. Systems and relationships as you say.

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