The Ikea-Inspired Guide to Fundraising

I really like Ikea because its success is a combination of affordable prices, cool designs, ease of purchasing and simplicity in assembly.

But it seems that the design of each Ikea store is created to confuse you. Walking up and down the aisles takes you from the bedroom section to the living room section to the kitchen section. Then you have to self-serve by awkwardly lifting packaged disassembled furniture. Every time, I feel like I am undertaking an adventure in looking for things that I don’t necessarily need. But for some reason when I come across an item that I have not seen before, I am tempted to pick it up and put it in my buggy.

One particular thing I love about Ikea is how they provide the owner step-by-step instructions for the new item, along with an allen key to assemble pieces together.

I came to realize that the principles for assembling Ikea furniture are similar to those for executing a successful fundraising campaign, particularly our 7 Step Power Donor System for major and planned giving. So in the spirit of Ikea furniture assembly, here is a simple Ikea-inspired 7 step guide to raising funds.

The 7 Step Guide to Raising Funds

Step 1Brainstorming

As part of the DIY (Do It Yourself) process, the most essential starting point is making sure you have the right tools and materials. For Ikea, these would be packaged screws, boards and other items like the wooden pegs. For fundraising, it is a checklist of action items which will help you review the past, present and future of the charity. Brainstorming will help you prepare for the budding campaign by setting up:

  • Clear Case for Support
  • Navigable website
  • Useful Giving tools
  • Strong Organizational commitment

In order to have those in place you need to have answers to the following questions:

  • How much money do you need?
  • How much do you need now?
  • How much will you need in 12 months?
  • How much will you need as an endowment?

Step 2 – Research & Identification

Now that you have all the right tools, you have to match them with the assembly pieces that you’ve been given. In the realm of fundraising, you need to use your database to organize the campaign and get your prospects in one place.

Step 3 – Connecting the Dots

Your actions should be part of a strategy that align with the instructions. This would require reading through instructions to complete the piece of furniture. In fundraising terms, this would require preparing the plan to approach your prospects. You will have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you need the funding?
  • How will it be used?
  • What is the impact of the funding?
  • How will it be measured?
  • Who will be involved?

Connectors will better understand the cause and be more willing to join the leadership team with these questions answered.

Step 4 – Develop a Customized Strategy

The saying “No man is an island” holds true for both furniture assembly and fundraising. In furniture assembly, you usually need someone to help you hold pieces together or make sure you are following the instructions correctly. In fundraising, it’s all about putting the leadership team together and getting them engaged in the project. During this process you need to get input from individuals who are not necessarily involved in the organization. These individuals will help you answer key questions such as:

  • What types of materials will help you approach prospects?
  • How will you portray the campaign?
  • How will you customize materials to better reach your target audience?

Step 5 – Leveraging Your Team’s Capabilities

When it comes to Ikea furniture, I make sure that my wife or one of my kids isn’t too far away to help me with the assembly. Similarly, you need to have your leadership team ready to use their networks and reach out to prospects. Leverage is all about having the right leadership team to help you in the process. Afterwards, you can start assessing your capabilities of connecting with your donors:

  • How will you reach out to your donors?
  • How will you identify new donors?
  • How will you follow up with these individuals?
  • How will you engage them?
  • How will you bring them to understand the benefits associated with donating to your organization?

Step 6Alliance

You’re almost there! Your furniture is starting to come together. Make sure you check off all the details to avoid a wobbly chair or a dangerous nail pointing out the back of your bookshelf.

In fundraising, the final touches of a major gift campaign are all about keeping people informed and recognized for their contributions. This usually takes place in the form of:

  • Engagement with professional advisors to explain the benefits of donating (e.g. via stocks, equities, publicly traded shares, mutual funds, RRSPs/RRIFs)
  • Donor recognition
  • Follow up with donors and key stakeholders

Step 7 – Close

Closing in furniture assembly and fundraising is making sure that there are no loose ends. This step involves finalizing donor agreements and receiving donation funds.

You’re done! You can enjoy your new furniture and your new fundraising campaign!

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