Black River Independent School Committee

Date/Time: 11-15-2018 @ 6:30pm

Location: Black River High School Middle School Library

Fundraiser Consultant Meeting Synopsis

Christine Graham, a professional fundraising consultant in New England, agreed to meet with our Black River Independent School Committee.  Ms. Graham specializes in assisting nonprofits in New Hampshire and Vermont especially.  A significant part of her expertise is to guide nonprofits in Capital Campaign Planning, which was the focus of her discussion with BRISC.  Author of several books on the subject, she followed up by sending BRISC one of her books as an aid, titled “Keep the Money Coming: A Step-by-Step Strategic Guide to Annual Fundraising.”  It has become a valuable resource to BRISC as we are in the midst of launching our own fundraising campaign.  Below is the synopsis of the meeting with Ms. Graham.

After explaining the current status of BRISC and the goal to transition Black River High School Middle School into an independent school (Black River Academy) that is feasible and available to the local student population, Ms. Graham made it very clear that as the fundraisers we need to put ample time and energy into not only making connections but also preserving those connections.  The more personal, yet professional, approaches we make the more likely we are to garner financial support.  Every person is a potential donor, and the goal is to continue making progress and gaining bigger financial support from donors as you display that success.  In essence, your cause grows and each donor as a means of financial support grows with you.  However, the key is that you as the fundraiser follow up; you must take the initiative to reach out and share the success and request further financial support so that your cause can meet another substantial goal.  Show that ambition and success, deep down donors want to be approached and a part of something special.  Make everyone feel personally tied to the success.  It is the fundraiser’s job to create that excitement.  Don’t be pushy of course, but there is no time like the present to network and show a need and worthy cause.  And always be gracious, follow up immediately with “Thank You’s!”

Obviously, there will be different levels of giving (relates to everyone being a potential donor and getting them to grow as financial support).  Fits into a pyramid diagram, with many donors offering smaller amounts in the first tier and as you move up tends to be fewer donors but donation amount grows.  Again, goal is to let everyone feel involved in one way or another and get them to grow as financial providers.  There will also be different groups to reach out to, such as local families in the community, potential community members (ie: 2nd homeowners), and businesses.  There will be some differences in outreach (such as being able to be more personal in approach with fellow community members), but it is the same idea: find a way to let them know their support is significant and worth the cause.  *KNOW YOUR DONOR!!  As far as methods go, letters are very common, but keep them short and sweet (1 page or less).  

One other diagram to differentiate between is several types of fundraising:

-Annual Operations: Raising funds to cover yearly expenses, it is money that will be spent in the year it is raised.

-Special Project: 1 time appeal, accomplishes a singular goal, with set amount to raise.

-Capital Fundraising: 1 time campaign that will last forever.

The last key point is to stay organized.  Use appropriate programs/databases to document EVERYTHING!  This will help with all financial paperwork accordingly, as well as help us to follow up and reach out to donors, new and old.  Never let anyone/anything fall through the cracks.  

Ms. Graham concluded the meeting providing BRISC reassurance that a lot of progress has been made, which is why she felt confident in scheduling the meeting in the first place.  There is still a lot of work ahead, but the competence displayed so far is worth moving forward.  We are extremely grateful for Ms. Graham’s expertise and her words of encouragement.  BRISC is excited to get more people involved and to continue with our own fundraising endeavors.  We invite everyone to join us and are grateful for every ounce of support provided.  Every bit matters.