You can’t see what you can’t see. There may be some challenges facing your nonprofit that you’re not be aware of. They are insidious and sometimes deadly. Taking a close look at “what’s really going on” may refocus your energy and resources, and rescue your fundraising.
Here’s some background. Nonprofit organizations and institutions play a key role in communities across the country. Healthcare, education, advocacy, homeless services, domestic violence prevention, athletics, the opera, symphony and theatres are just a few of the ways in which they add to our collective life. The rewards from such work are many. And, unfortunately, challenges abound. Top ones include board involvement, staffing, money, resources, exposure and awareness, and volunteer involvement. These are real. And at the same time, for some organizations the challenges are actually a little deeper. They lie in what you can’t see. And they inform or exacerbate the visible ones.
Lack of urgency and excitement. It’s hard to raise money and engage volunteers without a sense of urgency and excitement. Have you made the case to a potential donor regarding why it is important to support the priorities of your nonprofit today, and not tomorrow? Have you created a mechanism for generating enthusiasm in giving? Are you actively competing for the philanthropic dollar or waiting for it to come your way? You need an infectious excitement that is communicated verbally, in writing and electronically. Put fundraising at the top of your list each day.
Duplication of services. You may be 100% committed to your organization, its services or advocacy, and the people it serves. But, are you the only game in town, or are there a multitude of organizations doing similar work? When there are too many organizations providing comparable services it can be difficult for donors and funders to understand why they should fund your organization over a similar one. You may not get funded. Or you – and your like-minded nonprofits – may be splitting a pool of funds with the result being that no one raises enough money to effectively advance their mission. If duplication of services is an issue for your nonprofit, you may want to consider the unthinkable: merging, or refining/changing your mission.
Repeatedly soliciting the same donors and funders. This is an “under the radar” challenge that sometimes isn’t even identified as such. The positive spin is: we have a few committed donors who consistently support us. That may be true, but how long will it last? Are they providing enough funding, or is your organization cutting staff and services in order to operate? What if donors suddenly changed their giving? Donor retention isn’t a given: things change. Don’t put your nonprofit at risk: broaden your fundraising.
Next week we will cover more.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.