November 5, 2014
Who Needs Money?
Everyone in the nonprofit world to accomplish their mission.
Nonprofit organizations face many challenges every single day, however the need for money seems to always be in the top 3. So what can your nonprofit organization do? How can your organization differentiate itself? How do you face the government cutbacks and demanding economy? How do you stay competitive when there are millions of other nonprofit organizations out there competing with you?
Nonprofit organizations have a mission and have passion, however they need money to sustain a stable future, especially in an uncertain economy. The challenges faced today, are very different than they were years ago. You need to take a fresh look at your fundraising approach and get creative.
Be transparent. The public wants to see that you are not hiding anything. You should be sharing your successes as well as challenges and view your challenges as opportunities. Educate the public so they understand what you do and what your mission is. Move away from the overhead ratio and dig deeper to communicate metrics that matter. Open dialogue is critical with funders so they understand your mission and have the chance to ask questions and feel connected. Setting realistic goals and expectations will make transparency flow naturally.
Be on social media. How much time does the public spend on social media…it is almost immeasurable. More and more every day. It is the direction society is going, so you need to be there first and in the forefront. Leverage social media, online fundraising and crowd funding. Consider hiring a marketing and communications consultant if you do not have the expertise internally.
Be in the spotlight. People like to visualize. They need to see the things your organization is doing and see you active in the community. They need to see you giving back and making positive change. Get your ratings with charity watchdogs up so that when donors evaluate which organization to donate to, they choose you.
Be honest. The public needs to trust you. Prove to them that their contribution will be well spent for a good cause. Look for loyal contributors, put them right in the center of your organization, and show them your appreciation so they keep returning. Build your relationship with alumni, past donors, and invest time in thanking them.
Be factual. People want to see statistics, charts, and numbers. Hire a good accountant who can present the current finances, historical data and budget information. Make sure management from the development and accounting departments are communicating and properly disseminating facts.
Be knowledgeable of your audience. Who is your target audience? How can you best approach that target audience? Ask for referrals – your contributors may have friends and family that are likeminded and would be interested in supporting your organization as well. Obtain an understanding of generational differences and know the best way to approach each of them. Focus on target marketing so there is the greatest potential and efficient time spent. Personalize your approach and follow up, never losing sight of your end goal.
Be able to tell your story. Nothing brings it home like a good story that is full of laughter and passion and tears….all at the same time. Talk about the culture of your organization and motivate your employees and board members to be your best story tellers. Teach them how to articulate your financial needs and compelling mission. Then you all need to just ask for it, ask for direct donations. Most individuals and companies want to give, it is just a question of which organization they are going to give to.
Be a grant writer. Hire someone that can actively seek funding opportunities. There are a lot of missed opportunities out there waiting. You probably are eligible for funds that you aren’t even aware of. If you hire the right experienced person, they will easily cover their salary and the return on investment to the organization will be positive.
Be unique. Think outside the box. Perhaps it is time for a strategic plan that is meaningful, current, and is revisited routinely. Perhaps it is time to expand outside of your region. Perhaps it is time you empower different individuals in your organization. Perhaps you need to invest in training for your employees so they have the skills you desire. Perhaps it is time for a new fundraising system. Perhaps it is time to invest in technology. Perhaps it is time to hire a specialized consultant. Perhaps it is time to share the back-office function. Perhaps you should consider merging with other similar nonprofit organizations.
Be engaged. Seek employees and board members that will be actively engaged. Look for different skills, talent, and strong leadership to bring to the table. Find capable and dedicated individuals that you can hold accountable to keep moving your organization to the next level. Strengthen the relationship with the board members and management. Board member responsibilities should be documented in a written policy and communicated annually to the board members.
Be willing. Be willing to try something new and embrace change. Is it time for transformational change and time to take a risk? Collaborate with your competitors, your donors, your employees, and your consultants. With the right mindset, positive attitude, and believing in your organization’s mission, you can achieve your goals.
At the end of the day, there are approximately 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States all “searching for money”. Start with the end in mind and you will achieve your goals. Remember why you do what you do every day – remember your mission.