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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

By Maria Leyva

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs.

As fundraisers, we know that projecting the best information about our organizations is a key way to win new supporters and keep existing ones. The right messaging strategy can bolster support from donors and funders, and establish and increase your organization’s credibility. A close partnership with your organization’s communications team can make that happen.

Here’s a few ways collaboration with communications professionals can bring keep your fundraising strategy sharp or bring it to the next level.

Consistency is key

When writing a grant application, an annual letter of appeal to donors, or an email to a prospective new donor, it’s crucial to produce fundraising messaging that is consistent and aligned with the overall language and messaging of your organization. Delivering clear, consistent, and accurate messaging builds interest and trust in your organization while keeping current donors connected and loyal to your mission.

Because effective fundraising materials aim to inform prospective or current donors about the work of your organization, make an effort to coordinate with your communications, media, or quality control team to review your content. These staff are skilled in message framing, proofing, and polishing, and can review the accuracy of the information you’re presenting. Additionally, they can ensure your fundraising materials use the organization’s color palette, images, and logo. Details like visual branding and effective copy are foundational to conveying the best possible impression of your organization to prospective funders and external audiences.

Current events lead to currency

Another reason to loop in your communications staff is to make sure you’re including the most current news about your organization. For example, let’s say your organization has been responding to an urgent issue that is impacting your stakeholders or constituents. The urgency of the issue might mean that your organization will be rapidly responding with new talking points, data, or stories from your particular field.

Collaboration with your communications team ensures you’ll capture the latest and most compelling information in your fundraising materials. These efforts will keep your current donors engaged and informed about your work, while also piquing the interest of new donors.

For year-end appeals in particular, a common strategy is to use short stories or quotes from your field to demonstrate the need for your organization’s services. This is a compelling way to show the impact your organization has on communities, and can effectively motivate donor interest and support. In using this strategy, make sure to obtain approval from the individual(s) you will be quoting or highlighting in your stories.

Crunch the numbers

Infographics are effective tools that provide compelling information in an easily digestible, visually appealing format. When using them, it’s important to double-check the accuracy of numbers and statistics referenced in your materials. Data accuracy is especially critical when you’re citing your organization’s impact and accomplishments (i.e., number of people served, number of workshops conducted).

Communications professionals work with these numbers on a regular basis in their marketing and outreach tasks and should be able to help you confirm the data you’re using in your materials.

Fundraising and communications are a natural fit for cross-departmental collaboration. Communications professionals can bring their skillset to bear on your materials and help you present prospective and current donors and funders with the best possible version of your organization’s messaging and voice. When planning your next initiative, reach out and see what you can create together!