5 Things to Include in Your Fundraising Budget
Putting together a fundraising budget can feel overwhelming. There are lots of decisions to be made before you even open that Excel spreadsheet. But with a good fundraising plan, you can reasonably estimate the cost of big ticket items like a direct mail campaign or a fundraising event.
This cheat sheet is not going to help you plan the big ticket expenses.
Instead, here are a few expenses that often get neglected in a fundraising budget, but definitely need to be included.
1. Graphic design
Please, please pay a professional to design things for you. Don’t get the intern to do it. A good graphic designer will be able to translate your ideas into easy to read materials that are appealing to most audiences. Remember that what’s visually appealing to you may not be to the people who read your materials. You should have a few graphic designers at different price points on your roster. Have at least one rock star designer to help develop your brand and who can make recommendations for your projects. Other designers can fill the gaps for smaller projects that are less visible – like one-off invitations or forms.
2. Travel and meeting expenses
Meeting with donors and suppliers costs you money. Get reimbursed for it. Include mileage and parking if you’re a driver. If you’re not, include the cost of transit and/or taxis. Plan to pay for lunches with donors (though most of the time donors offer to pay).
3. Honoraria for clients who represent you
Program graduates have great stories to tell, and fundraisers often ask them to tell them. For some clients however, there are barriers to their participation such as paying for transportation and child care, or taking a few hours off of work. Include honoraria in your budget that can realistically help pay for these costs, and give the same honorarium amount to everyone. Some organizations only provide honoraria for in-person activities (i.e. not for phone interviews) to help save on costs.
4. Thank you cards and stamps
Saying thank you is one of the most important jobs a fundraiser has. Plan to buy a bunch of cards and stamps to send throughout the year. You can create branded organizational cards cheaply on websites like Snapfish or Moo.com. Or you can go to your local stationary shop and purchase bulk cards. Get a variety of cards from blank and thank you to birthday and sympathy so you’re covered for all occasions.
5. Professional development, department resources, and memberships
You might have a professional development budget as part of your employee contract. But you can also include a modest amount in your fundraising budget to purchase memberships for resources like Charity Savant and to buy white papers and toolkits that you need for projects you’re working on or have planned. You may also need to purchase access to directories of foundations or training for volunteers in your department.
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