Chapter 3. Finances

Grants and Fundraising

How do we develop a fundraising plan?

Fundraising includes the solicitation of donations from various sources, such as individual and corporate donors, special events, endowments, planned giving and bank loans. If patient care revenue will not be adequate for current and/or future operations, then fundraising is necessary.

Clinics that are newer, smaller, independent of larger agencies, or are planning new projects are more likely to require fundraising revenue. Major initiatives, such as construction of a new clinic or the purchase of a building, may require the development of a business plan to obtain funding. Some "fundraising" may yield non-cash donations that will help your bottom line.

Donations can be solicited for a variety of purposes. For example, sales representatives for dental equipment suppliers and products manufacturers can be contacted for contributions of new or used items or oral hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste or mouthguards. Local businesses may be able to donate furnishings, office supplies or art. Professionals or retirees can donate their time to provide direct care services or ancillary support services.

A few tips for fundraising:

  • Outline what the oral health/dental care needs are for your target population and show how your clinic is responding to these needs.
  • Make a wish list. What do you need first? Do you need money, equipments and supplies, or human resources? What could particular amounts of money buy?
  • Brainstorm how you can leverage additional resources if you had some initial funding.
  • Make a list of potential donors, including local businesses, other organizations and individuals. Ultimately, you will want to establish a dependable donor database of clinic supporters who can be counted on to produce a regular stream of contributions over the years. These individual donations represent the broad base of the fundraising "pyramid," in which many small donations account for a large proportion of gifts. In this "pyramid" analogy, progressively larger individual gifts represent the "higher" levels of the pyramid, but they represent a smaller number of gifts and a smaller proportion of total donations.
  • Take time to create a thoughtful and personalized solicitation letter. Click to see an example of a newsletter and solicitation form.
  • Offer different choices and levels of involvement. Click to see an example of levels of sponsorship.
  • Make a list of potential sources of matching funds.
  • Make sure that you show your appreciation for your volunteers and donors. Click to see an example of a published donor list and volunteer brochure (side 1, side 2).

The fundraising plan, like a grant-seeking plan, is a component of your business plan. The fundraising plan should contain annual and long-term (3-5 years) components, including overall revenue goals, revenue goals by source, implementation plans, staffing, and a fundraising program budget. An example of an annual fundraising plan Word file is provided.

Safety net dental clinics that wish to develop an effective fundraising program may want to identify a local fundraising professional to provide assistance; many professional fundraisers are members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.external link Member consultants can be located from their Website.

Case Study

The Marquette County (Michigan) Health Department Dental Program opened a three-chair dental clinic in Marquette in 1993, with a budget of $256,000. Since then it expanded the Marquette clinic, opened two other clinics, and increased the dental program budget to almost $1.5 million in 2001. These accomplishments occurred because of their success in building collaborative partnerships and diversifying their revenue sources. View a history of their dental program development.Excel file




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