Sometimes, even with the best plans, it can happen.

A campaign doesn’t go well. A grant doesn’t come in. Unexpected expenses pop up. Something goes wrong and throws your whole budget out of whack.

It puts your nonprofit between a rock and a hard spot financially, and all eyes look to you to pull a rabbit out of your hat.

So what do you do? (No, don’t cry or hide under the desk!)

Your best source of a major gift to right the ship is an individual donor. And how do you find one who can give you a big gift and get it to you quick?

Chances are good that you already have someone giving to (or at least involved with) your organization who has the resources to make a large gift. They’re right there under your nose just waiting for you to find them and invite them to get involved in a bigger way.

Here’s a way to find the ‘diamonds in the rough’ who can help you out:

1. Look at your list of top donors. Identify those people who have given a large gift in the past year or two. Hopefully you’ve been building a relationship with them. If not, you’ve got to work fast.

2. Sit down with them and have an honest conversation. Stay as positive and professional as possible as you tell your story. (This is no time to blame everything on your Board Chair, even if it is deserved). Explain to the donor what’s happening with the organization and how they can help. Be careful not to go into crisis mode – nobody wants to support a sinking ship.

3. Ask the donor if they would be willing to help address the issue. Be prepared to spell out what it will take and what the result will be. And how you will avoid this happening again. Then see what they say.

In my experience, I’ve found that lots of donors are happy to help out as long as there’s a good reason for the situation you’re in. If it’s due to poor management or a lack of leadership, you’ll be less likely to find someone who will bail you out.

Once you get the problems resolved, start thinking about what you need to put in place so this doesn’t happen again. (Hint: start building relationships with LOTS of great donors so that you have a steady stream of revenue to support your organization’s work.).

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