SARTAC Fellowship Produces Fundraising Tool Kit
With the goal of helping state self-advocacy networks become more independent, Florida self-advocate Christinne Rudd recently produced a national survey and tool kit as a SARTAC Fellowship project. SARTAC stands for Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center and is the technical assistance arm of the national self-advocacy group, SABE (Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered).
SARTAC’s mission is to strengthen the self-advocacy movement by supporting self-advocacy organizations to grow in diversity and leadership. Each year, SARTAC chooses individuals to conduct research on specific topics. The SARTAC Fellowship is a year-long opportunity for self-advocates to develop their skills as leaders in the self-advocacy movement and work to solve problems in the disability community. Fellows work with a supportive host organization. Rudd’s Fellowship was sponsored by Florida Self-Advocates Network’D or FL SAND – Florida’s self-advocacy group network.
The project addressed helping state self-advocacy networks and groups raise funds to become more independent and sustainable. For charitable nonprofits, the term sustainability is often used to describe the ability for a nonprofit to sustain itself financially over the long term, perpetuating its ability to fulfill its mission. It’s important for self-advocacy group networks and groups to be sustainable in the event they lose a major source of funding, such as a state agency, due to budget cuts or other reasons.
A survey was distributed to self-advocacy groups and networks across the country through email and regular mail with the goal to find out where they received funding. The survey provided a glimpse of different aspects from each organization. While many groups receive funding from their state developmental disability council or other agencies, a lot of other groups had additional ways of raising money. Some methods included charging membership fees and holding events like golf tournaments or 5Ks.
Other questions included in the survey asked if groups or networks had a board of directors and, if so, how often they meet. These questions helped us to better understand the structure and operation style that works best for groups and networks so they can stay focused on their goal of advocacy for individuals with disabilities.
The project tool kit is a guide for networks and groups that want to up their game in fundraising to help pay for costs of daily operation. A variety of methods and channels for raising funds were discussed in the toolkit, such as “fees for goods and services.” A good example of this is offering training to other groups and organizations on certain topics and charging a fee for the training. Other sources of funding include applying for grants and major gift fundraising, which involves asking for large gifts from individuals, foundations, or corporations.
When it comes to major gift fundraising as a revenue stream, personal connections must be made with potential donors. Asking someone for a donation might seem scary to some self-advocates but has many benefits. One benefit is that once a connection is made people are more likely to repeatedly donate to your group over time. Making these connections can raise awareness about disability issues and let people know what steps your group is taking to help work on those issues in its local community. Lastly, and just as important, you can gain new allies for your group. The research also had good tips on where to find information so looking things up is a little easier. The tool kit went into detail on different strategies groups can use to attract major gift donors, such as creating an endowment and a planned giving program where donors can leave money to the nonprofit from their estate after they pass away.
The tool kit also included best practices for managing large donations and budgets. It was a well thought out project that is a good starting point for any self-advocacy group or network. The information can spark ideas that would work for any group. The conclusions can be used to start a conversation within your groups about what steps you can take now in case you need a backup plan to keep your group going.