Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax talks about the BIG key to successful fund-raising:

September 4, 2000. Volume 3, Issue 16

Anna van der Meulen, Fund Raising Coordinator for the Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax Branch talks about her keys to successful fund-raising:

"The process of applying has been daunting to say the least! I was discouraged at first because I felt that we had some obstacles to contend with. First, we are a very small local branch of a national organization. Many of the funders that I contacted only give to national and regional projects. Second, we have been seeking funding for existing programs. Many funders seem to prefer to fund new projects only. Finally, we are a mental health organization whose primary focus is providing social support to adults who have experienced, or are experiencing, mental health problems. Most of our program participants live on fixed incomes with little or no support from family and friends. I have found that mental illness and poverty are not usually on top of funders lists of charitable causes.

All this said, we have had success! Why have some funders chosen to give to us? I sometimes wonder myself, but I can offer some advice. I have been consistent in how I have approached funders: First, I have relied on BIG Online to provide accurate information about funders - I focus primarily on funding interests, geographical scope and contact information. I ALWAYS call the potential funder first. I know that a personal connection makes a world of difference. I give a description of our organization and ask what exactly should be included in the proposal. About a week after sending the proposal, I call to verify that the funder received the package and to ask when a decision will be made. I am always sure to follow up at that time to see what decision was made.

Having some success with our local corporate campaign ($1,750 to date) was very encouraging and gave us the incentive we needed to look to larger foundations and corporations. With the foundation grant that we just received ($7,000) we are more optimistic than ever about more success in the future. I think the keys to success include: a well planned proposal, personal contact with potential funders and patience. Good luck!"

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