Executing a good fundraising campaign is only half the battle; the behind-the-scenes management of the fundraising campaign constitutes the other half. Good fundraiser management starts from the very beginning with keeping good records. Accurate record keeping ensures not only that the current campaign will proceed as smoothly as possible, but also that future campaigns will flow easily as well.
Fundraising involves many more details than what may first be apparent. Keeping track of these details builds a strong informational base, and makes it easy to track payments and items when something is called into question. Accurate, organized records also make it easy to look back and see what successful trends have emerged over past fundraisers, and what products, methods, or campaigns were not well received, so that the best decisions can be made in the next fundraising cycle.
When creating records, take care to keep sensitive information (and passwords) under “lock and key” so only authorized members of your group can gain access.
Use spreadsheets for your records
Essentially, almost any piece of information relating to the fundraiser is worth keeping.
– For product fundraisers track money spent for product purchases and supplies. Include the date, what was purchased, the amount, place of purchase or order, and how it was paid for, including check numbers. It might also be helpful to include the name of the person who handled the purchase so that future fundraising members can contact them with questions.
Track products that are distributed to fundraising volunteers and money collected and turned in. Record the name of the volunteer, how much and what type of product they took, if the product was paid for when taken and how, as well as the date taken and contact information for the individual. Include a space to record when or if the product was returned, the amount of money outstanding for the product, and the amount of money returned in exchange for product, including payment information (check numbers, etc.).
– For catalog fundraisers, keep copies of all order forms submitted so there is a backup file in case originals are lost.
– For direct mail fundraisers record addresses, amounts, dates and keep copies of the actual fundraising letters.
– For email and online campaigns you might be best off to use one of the online fundraising services. They will make your bookkeeping so much easier!
Creating a future reference
When setting up and creating records, keep in mind, that your records also provide a reference to help future volunteers create successful fundraising campaigns. Besides records for actual fundraisers, also keep good record of the following:
References such as volunteer positions, job descriptions, handbooks, time requirements, request letters, and product and service suppliers; keeping these types of fundraising records helps future campaign organizers to plan realistically and diminishes the amount of repetitive leg-work from year to year.
Consider setting up a separate swipe file with only non-sensitive information that’s readily available to volunteers.
Poor planning is one of the most common reasons that fundraising campaigns fail. However, with accurate fundraising records to fall back on, new organizers can look back to see what types and methods of fundraising worked well for an area or organization, and disputes over finances and products can be minimized with proof of all transactions. In short, for a successful fundraising campaign, well organized, accurate fundraising record keeping is an absolute necessity.
To help with future fundraisers, consider completing a Post-Fundraiser Evaluation for each fundraiser. Add comments about what worked and what didn’t work for a specific fundraiser and what should be done differently the next time.
More fundraising checklists…