The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Change the Way You Look at Fundraising

Simple tweaks in the way you think and what you say can affect how people look at your cause or your organization:

  • There are only three reasons for a nonprofit organization to exist. Those are to save lives, transform lives, and change lives. It’s all tied to helping other people. It’s what you are doing everyday, and it is driving your existence. Think about which is the most important to you, and communicate that to your supporters.
  • That impact that you are making is what drives your income, not the other way around. Your income should not and does not drive your impact. The size and scope of your impact determines the size and scope of your income. If you can effectively relate your impact to people in the community, your income will increase, thereby allowing you to have a greater impact, and so on.
  • That income is of course necessary though, so just ask. You always need to be asking, it won’t happen by itself. Awareness doesn’t equal action. There’s no harm in asking, so ask away!
  • But just don’t ask for money. Present people with the opportunity to help. Describe to them in human terms what they can do to help and show them how.
  • Take it one step further. Share a story when you present the opportunity. Everybody has a great story. A story of how your organization was founded or the people you help or the people that help you. Those stories inspire other people to take action as well.
  • Focus on relationships, not transactions. If the only time you speak to the people who help you is when you want money from them, you don’t have a real relationship with them. Most people stop giving to a charity not because of financial concerns but because of the way they were treated. Remember that you are in the relationship business, and your supporters deserve to be treated well.
  • Think about what you call yourself. Define what cause you’re supporting and what your vission is—this is the real message you’re trying to spread. Don’t just tell people you’re a nonprofit, tell people that you’re “for-impact,” and make yourself immediately sound positive.
  • Don’t stop there—how about getting rid of your mission statements, especially when it relates to spouting them off or having potential supporters read them? Mission statements are often lengthy, boring, and altogether worthless. Again, define what your actual message is, what you want people to understand, and what you want them to do. Are you “dedicated to ending malnutrition in the hungry and teaching sustainable agriculture,” or do you want to “end hunger!” Often times simple language can pack a big punch.

*This article was adapted by Jake Emen from Tom Suddes’ webinar presentation “33 Ideas that Change the Fundraising Game.” It was originally published on December 18, 2008 and has been updated.



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Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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