Funding your work

Having the financial resources to sustain your organization over the long run is absolutely critical to its health and survival. The board is responsible for ensuring adequate financial resources; however, the whole organization (board, staff and volunteers) should be actively participating in the effort to acquire sufficient funding. To do this, you will need to do the following:

  • Build a fundraising team. Board and staff leadership drive the fundraising effort with the support of a development committee, development staff and all members of the board and staff.
  • Develop a written annual fundraising plan that is approved by the board and that is connected to the annual budget and reflects the needs of the annual workplan. Make sure to include a healthy balance between restructured and unrestricted funds as well as a diverse stream of funding sources.
  • Engage all board members in the fundraising effort. Achieve 100% giving from the board and ensure that all board members have a role to play by assigning tasks throughout the fundraising year. Your board members can participate in the fundraising effort by identifying prospective donors, cultivating donors, and thanking donors.
  • Install policies and structures to promote and support your fundraising effort. Employ online services to engage donors, develop appropriate giving policies and timelines for your organization, and invest in an effective database to track your donors.

There are increasing opportunities to leverage innovative financing mechanisms to support your efforts. These could include working with corporations in your area interested in social responsibility or water stewardship, engaging your local water utility and benefiting from local restoration funding they might provide, looking to nontraditional sources of funding (e.g., workforce development, etc.), or even collaborating with others to establish a water fund for your river or watershed.

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