There’s no magic pill to help you raise money and fund your nonprofit.
No silver bullet.
No enchanted wand.
Raising money takes work and commitment.
But there are some things that make long-term, sustainable fundraising easier.
Being able to fully fund your nonprofit mission is about something bigger than just fundraising.
It’s not about getting rich people to give. Or getting more grants. Yes those things are important, but they can’t be the main focus.
Long-term success is about caring passionately about the impact your nonprofit makes.
It’s about being the kind of organization that people can’t ignore because what you do makes such a difference.
It’s about making such an impact that there’s no way the community would let you fail.
Ready for that?
The world needs more nonprofits that are full-out committed to making a huge difference and leading a movement, not just scraping by or upholding the status quo.
Here are 10 keys to fund your nonprofit:
1. Make a difference or don’t bother. Your nonprofit should exist to make a big splash – find a cure, solve a problem, eliminate hunger, stop euthanasia, end suffering or meet a need. If your nonprofit’s mission isn’t about something that truly matters, you should really think about whether it’s needed.
2. Cast a BIG vision. Big vision attracts big gifts. No one gets excited about mediocre missions. Create a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) and watch people around you get excited to help you make it a reality. Do something worth doing. Do something that matters. The world will thank you for it.
3. Share your passion. Even if you think you’re just an ordinary person, the flames in your heart are the secret to success. Passion is contagious. Let it out. Let people see how much you care – it inspires them to care, too.
4. Have a plan and work it. You’ll never fully fund your work when you’re reactive, so carve out time to create a fundraising plan. Take the time to set goals and strategies that will help you reach them. Lay out action plans. Then get help and don’t stop working until you reach your goals.
5. Diversify your revenue. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t rely on one grant or one event or one source of funding to support most of your organization’s activities. It’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, build a variety of revenue streams to support your organization’s work. That way if one shrinks or goes away, you can easily survive it.
6. You don’t need to find rich people – You need to find the right people. Not everyone will give to your nonprofit and that’s okay. Focus on finding those people who think the work you do is fantastic and want to support it however they can. These are the folks who will become loyal donors and want to see you be successful.
7. Value the relationship more than the money. Focus on building relationships with your donors and watch them give more. When they feel appreciated and needed, they give bigger gifts and more frequent gifts. They’re not an ATM that you can withdraw from whenever you need it. Help them feel part of the work your organization does. Without them and their gifts, you couldn’t do what you do.
8. Thank donors well and more money will come your way. The way to encourage more donations is to help people feel good about the last one. Be gracious and genuine. The bigger the gift, the more times you should thank them. Have a plan for donor acknowledgement and follow it.
9. Focus on them, not you. ALWAYS be donor-focused. Approach fundraising from your donor’s point of view. What are they interested in? What do they want to know? What will they respond to? It’s not about you and your needs. It’s all about what your donor wants. Communicate accordingly.
10. Take every chance to build trust. This is about ethics and integrity. Use gifts for the purpose they were given. Keep good records. Be open to sharing everything with your donors – your financial statements, accounting records, even their donor record. Share openly and honestly about the work your nonprofit does. Transparency builds trust and trust is the foundation of relationships.
Just imagine what it would be like if your nonprofit could work itself out of a job.
I used to think about that when I worked at the Food Bank. It was sort of scary, and very exciting too.
What would happen to your nonprofit if you embraced these 10 keys? What would be possible? How many lives could you change or save?
What would need to change in your nonprofit right now for you to start down the path of becoming a game-changing, fully-funded nonprofit? What would you need to let go of?
Take some time to think through these questions and apply them to your organization so you can fully fund your nonprofit.