Not all Nonprofits Are Created Equal (But all Face Similar Challenges)
Last week in our series, 4 Lessons from the Trenches to Prepare for Giving Season, we talked about how to harness emotions in your year-end appeals. This week, we’ll be talking about overcoming the challenges of time and capacity to reach your fundraising goals.
Each nonprofit we served that day in Baltimore had different challenges when it came to fundraising. Some were already well versed and quite diversified while others were new to individual giving. Some were better funded through grants and fees for service while others needed a fresh boost of creativity to market themselves more effectively.
And while these nonprofits had varied levels of challenges, and even organizational sizes, what they all had in common was a capacity constraint. For example, when we worked with the University of Maryland, Baltimore that day, which would be considered pretty well resourced, we realized they still need help reaching new donors and developing new and creative campaigns for individual giving. Figuring out how to do that within their current level of capacity posed a further challenge. So what can organizations of all sizes do to combat this?
Here are a few ideas:
- Branch out into the community, but be specific. Your community isn’t always your physical neighborhood, as we learned in lesson one. You biggest supporters are going to have an emotional connection to your cause. Sponsoring or attending an event that is related to your cause area, sending out advertisements on social media to a targeted group, and mining your friends and associates for ideas are good places to start.
- Create an emotionally compelling peer-to-peer campaign to mobilize your network.
- Ask someone who has the experience, like a professional fundraising coach, to take a look at what you’ve been doing and provide some educated feedback.
- Look into the idea of pro-bono volunteers, especially when there’s a gap in your staff experience. Organizations like Taproot can help with this.
- If lack of time is your primary issue, consider investing in systems that reduce manual tasks and help you reach the right donors, faster.
That’s all for now. Next week, we’ll talk about what constitutes the right mix of funding sources, why individual giving should be part of it, and how to create a sustainable fundraising program to bolster your success in preparation for year-end.