Not all fundraising challenges lie in the actions – or lack of action – by donors, cheap board members, staff and volunteers. Some are hidden in plain sight. Consider the following.
The will to fundraise. If you don’t want to fundraise, don’t make it a priority, and don’t invest time and money in fundraising- chances are you don’t have the will to fundraise. Will and willingness are related, but not the same. Willingness is an attitude: will is the application of willingness. It is evident in the actions you take and don’t take. Do you visit with people in person? Do you ask for financial and in-kind support? Are you building a corps of fundraising volunteers, or do you try to do it yourself when you have the time?
Overcoming the business-as-usual mentality. Fundraising is competitive. You have to constantly lead with your uniqueness while fulfilling your mission and understanding the needs and concerns of donors and funders. You can’t go on autopilot. Take time to consider where your support lies, where it could lie, and how to test your supposition. Take small risks, evaluate the results, and keep innovating.
Do you know your marketplace? Fundraising is all about people. Do you know the people in your community? Do you know the general attitude of the community towards your nonprofit? Do they like you? Do they care about your mission? Do they trust your leadership to use donated and invested funds with efficiency and efficacy? Can you identify emerging, unmet needs and make a difference without indulging in “mission creep?”
Mediocrity. Honestly, is your organization stellar, mediocre, or just getting by? Sometimes an organization has been doing things so long, and dealing with contracting revenue for too long, that mediocrity becomes the norm. Take a close look at operations and attitudes with the goal of discerning if there’s a better way to conduct business. While your organization may need money, need isn’t necessarily a philanthropic motivator. Service, innovation, and accountability are the new norms.
Measuring and communicating your impact. These are directly related to accountability. You have to answer the question: how does my money make a difference? Take a moment to identify the measurements you will deploy and build them into your programming. Review your measures and outcomes. Use them to refine your work. Communicate impact consistently – people care more about impact than need.
Benefits and opportunities. Are you building a circle of reciprocity? What benefits – tangible and intangible – can you offer donors, volunteers, and staff? What opportunities do you offer that increase your value and offer meaning to others? Don’t take people and relationships for granted. Demonstrate your gratitude in ways that incentivize giving and involvement.
You can succeed: your community needs you to succeed. Keep up the good work.
Copyright 2014 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your fundraising, visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.