Fund Raising 101
This information is to assist those who are considering undertaking a capital campaign. You are encouraged to seek professional assistance when appropriate. You may need an architect, engineer, attorney, accountant or other professional consultants to assist in formulating and executing your
campaign. While these professionals don’t work for free, they usually save your fund raising team considerable money, time and headaches.
Before designing your campaign, you will first want to understand the options for your prospective donors. Basically, you can provide your prospects with two donating options: (1) gifts that are taxdeductible or (2) gifts that are not tax-deductible. Some house corporations may be able to qualify for an IRS approved 501c3 corporation which allows tax deductible gifts. This is usually because the chapter house is a recognized historical property. Most chapter houses, however, do not qualify so the house corp needs to explore other options including those provided by Sigma Chi:
Sigma Chi Foundation was established in 1939 and is a 501c3 approved organization. Contributors may make tax-deductible contributions to either the Foundation’s General Fund or to a specified Chapter Fund. A contribution made to a Chapter Fund is a gift exclusively for the designated chapter.
The donor can deduct the entire gift. Contributions to the Chapter Fund are restricted exclusively for educational purposes like a scholarship room, computers, wiring the chapter house for computers, educational programming and scholarships.
Constantine Capital Incorporated (CCI) was established in the late 1980s to meet the needs of chapter houses. CCI provides fixed-rate loans to house corporations that are in good standing with Sigma Chi. The loans are secured primarily by a lien on the chapter house.
The Feasibility Study. Is the fund raiser feasible? Perform these tasks:
• Review past fund raising efforts. Success or failure?
• Develop the scope of work, budget and schedule.
• Identify top donor prospects.
Interview. Conduct personal interviews with prospective campaign leaders, potential donors and volunteers. Get candid opinions about the program’s viability.
Fund Raising Necessities. A success fund raiser has these fundamental elements:
Alumni Database. The is the cornerstone upon which all successful fund raisers are built. A comprehensive database of all chapter alumni must be developed which includes email addresses for maximum efficiency and reduced costs. Using email focuses more funds of the goal and less on the
message. This contact information is needed for newsletters, event announcements, campaign goals and updates.
Effective Communication Strategy.
1. Produce Newsletters. Newsletters are essential for conveying the scope and cost of the project for which funds are needed as well as informing of events, where are they now articles and bragging on the chapter achievements. Plan on doing 3-4 a year. There are companies like Affinity Connection
www.affinityconnection.com/sector_greek.htm and Pennington & Company www.penningtonco.com which can provide professional newsletter services.
2. Produce a Video. You Tube provides a free (a very good price) way to communicate your message. You can video the chapter house to evoke fond memories and the areas that need improvement to demonstrate the need. Many alums may not have visited the chapter house in many years. A picture, in
this case, is worth a thousand dollars (and maybe more).
3. Host a Website. Websites are cheap and available 24/7. Contact Sigma Chi Alumni Services at www.sigmachi.org for a free website like the one used by the Grand Trustees at www.TheSigHouse.org Websites can include many things like a member database, donor information, explain the fund raiser and
4. Use Email Often. Email is free, fast and effortless. When sending mass emails, make sure to include an opt out option for those that don’t want to be bothered.
Some general principles to follow in your fund raising efforts include:
• Seek Investment, Not Charity. Donors don't want to feel they're giving away money. They want to feel they're investing in a worthy cause.
• Urgent & Legitimate Need. “Urgency” is the single most important word in fund raising. If your need can be deferred, no one will get enthused and little will get accomplished. The project must get donors excited.
• Clearly Communicated. The plan must be crystal clear in its scope. Major donors often take a very close look at the overall planning. They didn’t get rich using sloppy business practices.
• Strong Chairman. Often considered the most important element of a successful campaign, a strong chairman is able to recruit volunteers, to influence the size and timing of key gifts, and to give the campaign the priority it must have to succeed. A strong chairman is unrelenting in his drive to reach the campaign goal.
• Enthusiastic Internal Support. The enthusiasm of the fund raising committee can have a major effect on the campaign. United and positive financial support by volunteers creates the right climate for success.
• Challenging Yet Realistic Goals. The goal has to be sufficient to satisfy your overall plan. Don’t fall into the trap of “the higher the goal the more we can raise.” The goal must be honest and relate to the need. You will find it difficult to recruit manpower when the campaign goal appears unrealistic.
• Adequate Lead-off Gifts. Successful campaigns require substantial lead-off gifts from “heavy hitters”, the house corp board, the fund raising committee and active chapter members (Yes, actives should donate too. Even though the dollars won’t be large, the symbolism is huge for alums). The goal should
be to have at least 50% of the goal committed before announcing the campaign. On average, 90% of your goal will come from 10% of your donors.
• Name Your Project. Ask major givers if they want to fund a special project within the overall renovation project (like new furniture, the chapter room, the kitchen, etc.). If the donation is large enough, consider naming a room for the donor.
• Competent Campaign Management. A fund raising campaign is big business and requires skillful management. Some of the characteristics to look for are thoroughness, superior communication skills, recruiting the right people and maintaining momentum.
• Timing. If the economy is struggling, your campaign should be deferred. Avoid conflicts with other fund raising efforts.
• Payment Options. While getting donations upfront is preferred, allowing multiple year payments will encourage a greater dollar commitment from many.
Fund raising is a basic responsibility of every house corporation. If you don’t have one going, put together a plan and put it to work for your chapter.