So you’ve launched a new charitable initiative and you’re ready to go out and seek support for it. Or are you? Before you schedule that first donor visit or begin completing that online grant application, you should assemble your fundraising go bag.
What’s a Go Bag?
Go bags are typically used for emergency preparedness. It is a bag that you fill with everything that you would need to survive away from home and off the grid for a few days.
One key fact about go bags is that you put them together IN ADVANCE not knowing when you will need them, but knowing that if the need arises you won’t have the time to put it together then. This is really the key for us … we need to pre-assemble all of the things that we may need while fundraising, because in the heat of the campaign there certainly won’t be time to do so.
Components of a Fundraising Go Bag
As a fundraiser what do you need to be prepared for? What do you need to have ready at all times? I believe that you need three categories of items: great fundraising language & programmatic info, organizational documents & financial information, and pre-printed stock to place your compelling request for support on. Here’s a detailed list of what you may need in each category:
Fundraising Language / Programmatic Info:
- Case for support
- Key messages
- Project plan
- Description of services
- Prioritized wish list of organizational needs
- Testimonials / letters of support
- High resolution images
- Evaluation plans (how will you evaluate success?)
Organizational Documents / Financial Information:
- Mission statement & vision
- Organizational history / timeline
- Tax exempt document: 501(c)(3)
- Board list w/ affiliations & work contact info
- Staff list / organizational chart
- Bios for key staff members & board chair
- Anti-discrimination policy
- Document retention policy
- Whistle blower policy
- Annual budget
- Sources of funding (% public/corporate/individual & list of top 20 donors)
- Audited financial statements
- #10 envelopes
- #9 reply envelopes
- Pledge cards / reply device
- Thank you notes (pre-stuffed, pre-stamped & in your briefcase)
You can download our free fundraising go bag checklist here.
Once you determine what you need, I recommend assembling them in two places: one digital and one physical. I keep all of the digital documents in one folder and I have shelf below my printer for all of the physical items. Everything is a click or reach away the second I need it, so the next time I’m completing a grant application I don’t have to stop and search for my organization’s document retention policy … it’s in my go bag (folder).
So take an afternoon to assemble your fundraising go bag. It will save you some time and frustration down the line and will be well worth the effort.