As I have noted in many previous articles, almost anything can be turned into a project. Therefore, it was no surprise when I realized that the best way to raise funds for a local community project was to treat it as its project. At first, I had included fundraising as part of cost management, which is partially correct. However, the work involved in fundraising is involved and complicated enough that it was difficult to subsume it under a subordinate section of project management. There are various fundraising options, such as direct requests, grant applications, and corporate asks. Additionally, fundraising requires certain skills and expertise, which are not always part of every person’s competencies, such as civil engineers like myself. Therefore, it made sense to break out fundraising as a separate sub-project.
Let’s talk about the project itself. We are converting a section of the road into a community park. The property owner is the City of San Francisco, and the “owner’s representative” is the Department of Public Works. Still, the client is the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA) as the project sponsor, and our major donor is also a government agency that gave us funding through a grant. The grant requires, however, that the community raise funds in cash, in kind, or a combination of both, which is why fundraising for this project became a challenge. Fortunately, several community members have fundraising experience, and the challenge has energized people. However, having a roadmap or plan of attack was the first step.
The fundraising roadmap, which is currently in process, requires:
- First, a scope to detail exactly what works needs to be accomplished, the requirements, which in this case are, for example, the percentages of in-kind and cash amounts; the acceptance criteria, which will list out what the expectations are and how to meet them.
- A budget is, in effect, a budget within a budget to determine the allowable amounts we can spend on office materials, meals for prospective major donors while schmoozing them, and potentially professional grant writers and fundraising professionals.
- A schedule that is more or less defined by the project deadlines and when the funds will be required during the project lifecycle.
In addition, other ancillary components need to be considered, such as:
- Risks associated with fundraising include threats, such as the inability to raise funds outlined in the project objectives; fundraising fatigue, which can occur when using volunteers; and others. Additionally, there are positive risks to consider, such as raising more funds than required, which could be used for the project’s future O&M costs, but need to be reconciled with tax laws and other legal issues.
For many of us, fundraising is a task that can rank as high as public speaking. Yet, it is simply something that many people are interested in doing. Therefore, just like any project, creating a project plan for this work will help both plans out the work, demystify it, and aggressively meet the demands head-on.