It may seem hard to fundraise when there are so many pressing disasters in the world, but if your nonprofit has been actively engaged in cultivating donors, you may find that, rather than encountering donor fatigue, you receive an outpouring of compassion.
The recent disasters are waking people up to all the real need in the world, and many are feeling more generous than ever, even to local causes. Loyal donors don't slip away in a crisis. On the contrary, they seem to have a special "extra pocket" out of which they give for disaster relief in addition to their regular contributions to their favorite organizations.
How dare we discuss your neediness, you may ask? Isn't it obvious?
Aren't you doing such a good job of show and tell that you leave people thinking you've got it all handled? This, of course, leaves them no room to contribute.
You've got to become masterful at walking the fine line. Let them know you're extraordinarily competent and solid. When it comes to covering the basics, you're the best.
But then there's that gap. The gap between where you are now and where you could be—if only. If only you had more resources—which is where they come in.
In every communication, you've got to portray both—your competence and your needs.
In every newsletter, at every event, in every one-on-one or small group presentation, even in every phone call—make it a habit.
You see, most folks out there don't wake up every morning worrying about the survival and long-term viability of your organization. In fact, odds are, they aren't thinking about you at all.
They need you to remind them, time after time, of why you need their support. If you aren't reminding them in every single encounter, you have no right to expect them to contribute to you.
So, let's look.
If nonprofits truly believe in their missions, they should be thinking about how to be self-sustaining in their funding. Many of the dedicated, smart people who really care about the missions of their favorite nonprofit organizations eventually ask the same questions: "How much money would it take to endow the operational funding gap here? How much would it really cost to achieve financial sustainability for this organization?"
This clear focus ultimately will take the suffering out of funding operational needs and allow the organization to focus on its mission—be it curing disease, cleaning up the environment, or improving the life of one person.
What is it about money that scares us so much?
Believe it or not, it's not asking people for money that makes us so crazy, it's asking for anything!
Think for a minute of the last time you were at a luncheon or dinner gathering. While everyone else was enjoying their meal, you were obsessed with one thing: how to get the salt or butter or salad dressing passed all the way around the table to you. You could see that the person closest to the salt shaker was deeply engrossed in conversation, as were the two people on either side of you. Of course it would have been much too rude to stand up and reach for it. Or holler over to the person nearest to the object of your desire.
- Let go of any written or unwritten rules you may have about the "right" way for board members to participate in fundraising.
- Above all, let go of the notion that all board members must ask others for money.
- Accept the 20-60-20 rule when it comes to fundraising and your board. That is, 20 percent of the board will enjoy being involved in fundraising, 60 percent will be neutral about it, and the remaining 20 percent will want nothing to do with it.