Is your smaller organization struggling?
Wondering why you can’t get out of the just-squeaking-by-every-year rut?
Meet two fundraising enemies: Thinking Small and its evil twin, Wishful Thinking.
Thinking Small works its way in disguised as pragmatism.
After all, if your organization is small, you have no choice, right? But it invades your organization’s mindset. Planning is now a luxury. Everything is day-to-day. Your focus is on the next payroll, the next grant. You fund project to project – and often do it backward (“well, they’d pay for us to do this… it’s not quite our mission, but we could do it”).
You’re too busy to plan, and too small to invest in planning anyway, right?
Wishful Thinking begins as optimism – a good thing. But soon, it sidles up to you and puts its seductive powers to work. It pushes aside your good sense. And before you know it, you’re removed from reality.
I get it. It’s so wonderful to only see the dream!
You find yourself thinking – “Oh, we’ll raise a LOT of money!!” without actually making plans toward those goals.
You risk a full-blown case of The Oprah Syndrome – “We’ll find someone with a lot of money and they’ll fund everything!”
At its worst, it pulls you away from your donors. You look at your programs and think “We’re so great! Donors owe us.” You’ve already funded everything in your head – why bother building relationships?
Does any of this sound familiar? You see where this leads, right?
It’s like spending hours a day mopping up because of a leaky faucet instead of calling the plumber.
Here’s what you can do
First, stop. That’s right. Stop thinking the world won’t spin without you. Stop thinking you’re too small to take action. Make the time to assess your situation.
Then start making plans. Ask questions: What programs are working well? Which can be fully funded? What would change if we had the funding we need?
There’s no way around it. You’ll have to shift your priorities to succeed.
If you want to be stronger, you have to raise more money.
If you want to raise money, fundraising has to be a priority. You’ll have to invest in it – both time and money.
So start planning, step by step, how you’ll do that.
It might mean investing reserves, or asking the board or a few loyal donors to invest in your fundraising. As The Agitator has discussed, your return on that investment is likely to be much better than what the bank would give you.
Be sure your planning involves the whole organization. Of course, to succeed, you need the leaders of the organization. But fundraising has to include everyone!
And then decide how you’ll measure success. Embed those measurements into everyone’s work.
Stop just dreaming and start doing.
And remember your donors are your partners. Treat them with the respect they deserve.
They don’t owe you a thing – they’ve chosen to be a part of your work. Prioritize those relationships!