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A Journey toward Community-Centric Fundraising

A Primer on Community-Centric Fundraising

If you are tuned into the nonprofit scene in Seattle, you have probably heard the term “Community-Centric Fundraising.” The goal of the Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) movement, which started in Seattle, is to make fundraising more equitable, to lift the voices of people of color and others most affected by social inequities, and to advance practices that will effect meaningful progress towards solving systemic societal issues.

At a basic level, CCF is a reaction to the idea of donor-centric fundraising, which puts the donor or funder at the center, treating them as the hero of the nonprofit’s story. The donor-centric model is itself a reaction to the old tradition of making the nonprofit organization the hero of the story. In CCF, no one person or group is the “hero”. The CCF model recognizes that meaningful change can only happen if the whole community – nonprofits, staff, donors, funders, advocates, board members, volunteers, and community members work together.

10 Principles of Community-Centric Fundraising

At Kids Co., we see the value in incorporating and adapting the CCF model in our practices. In fact, it takes the values we are already applying within the work we do in the centers and applies them to fundraising. Here are the 10 principles at the heart of the CCF movement (source: CCF’S 10 Principles), what they mean to us, and how we are working to apply them across the work that we do:

1. Fundraising must be grounded in race, equity, and social justice.

Kids Co. was founded on the belief that ALL children and families should have access to high-quality care and education. This is why we accept all city and state child care subsidies, with no caps, and offer scholarships that are individualized to families’ needs. We also prioritize hiring from within the communities we serve. From a fundraising prospective, we aim to make our website as accessible as possible, and to give donors many ways to give to us. We value all donations and donors, and recognize that we are in this work together.

2. Individual organizational missions are not as important as the collective community.

At Kids Co., we believe the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Only by working in partnership with others in our community, can we hope to build a better system for our kids. This is why Susan (Kids Co. found and CEO) started the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition. Together we are advocating for financial support and policies that lift up al child care providers. From a fundraising standpoint, we strive to move away from having a competitive stance towards other organizations. When others receive financial support, we celebrate with them, and we try to approach funders with an aim to build relationships that will benefit the communities we serve.

3. Nonprofits are generous with and mutually supportive of one another.

As part of the child care community in Seattle, we have natural relationships with other providers. We want all kids to have access to high quality care and education and we know we cannot accomplish that alone. We celebrate others’ successes and advocate for more support across the nonprofit landscape. In fundraising, we hope to continue to find ways to support others in our community and to avoid a competitive frame of mind when seeking support. We see this as a great area of growth for us, along with the rest of the nonprofit sector.

4. All who engage in strengthening the community are equally valued, whether volunteer, staff, donor, or board member.

We recognize our staff, donors, and board members as critical members of the Kids Co. community. Taking care of our staff is one of our core values. This means fair compensation, safe and supportive work environments, and opportunities for learning and growth. Our volunteer board is a dedicated group of intelligent and caring individuals. Our admin team and board have a relationship of mutual respect and appreciation for the important work we are all doing to serve our kids, families, and communities. Our donors are valued for the support they show our kids and families, regardless of the dollar amounts they give. It takes all of these groups to ensure we can keep serving kids and families for years to come.

5. Time is valued equally as money.

We all know that time is precious. Our staff and our board put in many hours of diligent work to ensure our kids are getting the best possible care. We have also had the support of talented individuals who have lent us their helping hands and expertise. We understand how valuable that is, and we are working on ways to create more opportunities for individuals to give their time and to give acknowledgement for this precious gift.

6. We treat donors as partners, and this means that we are transparent, and occasionally have difficult conversations.

Kids Co. is fortunate to have a wonderful community of supporters who truly understand the value of the work of child care. Along with sharing our successes with the community, we aim to be open and honest about the challenges. We understand that, as our partners, our supporters are in it for the long haul. Some organizations have had to have difficult conversations with or even had to say know to donors because of a misalignment of values. We have never been put in this situation, but we hold our core values close and have policies in place to ensure we are not accepting support that does not align with.

7. We foster a sense of belonging, not othering.

A sense of belonging is so important for kids. It is why, as a high-quality child care provider, we take extra care to ensure our centers are safe and welcoming spaces for all kids. Our staff are trained to be inclusive and to teach inclusion and acceptance to the kids in their care. This care is also extended to our staff, volunteers, donors, vendors, and all individuals we work with. Through our words and actions, we strive to build a strong community of support where everyone feel they belong. For fundraising, we never treat our kids or families as others. While some of our families have openly shared their challenges, our stories always focus on the strengths, diligence, and resilience of our families and kids.

8. We promote the understanding that everyone (donors, staff, funders, board members, volunteers) personally benefits from engaging in the work of social justice – it’s not just charity and compassion.

Since the beginning, we have recognized that all members of our community are driven by a passion for the work of taking care of our children and families. The work of child care enables all other work, so a thriving child care sector where every child has access to high-quality care benefits all of us. Through our communications we want our whole community to understand how their support benefits families, businesses, communities, and the economy. It is an investment in all of us.

9. We see the work of social justice as holistic and transformative, not transactional.

Many individuals do not understand the true cost of care for a high-quality child care provider. Like any direct service organization, our biggest expense is staffing, and there are many fixed costs associated with running a center. While, we understand that supporters have been taught to think of “overhead costs” as separate from “program costs”, the reality is that every cost is required to provide high-quality care for our kids and families. In fundraising, we are trying to move away from transactional thought and language. While we may not be able to say that your $10 provided a center with two books, we can say that every dollar you give goes directly to supporting high-quality child care for kids and families in Seattle. And, that as a community of staff, volunteers, donors, and funders, we are able to support hundreds in their development and ensure that hundreds of families can attend school and work knowing their children and safe and cared for.

10. We recognize that healing and liberation requires a commitment to economic justice.

In this country, there has been a reckoning as the deep roots of inequity are being exposed. As a child care provider, we are aware of the racist practices that are baked into the child care system and the inequities that still exist. Child care workers are still disproportionately women of color, and we continuously advocate for thriving wages for child care staff to start to address economic injustices of our economy.

Moving the Work forward

Kids Co. has always been committed to equity, justice, and antiracist practices in the services we provide. We believe that all families should have access to high-quality and reliable child care. We believe that child care workers should receive thriving wages. As we journey towards incorporating more community-centric principles into our fundraising practices, we look forward stronger partnerships with our whole community of support.

For more information about community-centric fundraising, visit the movement’s website and the blog, Nonprofit AF, whose author, Vu Le, inspired the Community-Centric Fundraising movement. For information about the child care industry, visit Susan’s Blog on our website.