Don’t Fool Yourself about Fundraising

Every week, I talk to non-profit organizations that fool themselves about fundraising. These organizations want to raise more money, but…

  • They don’t want to make more personal asks (“can’t we just hold another event?”)
  • They don’t want to invest more time (“we’re too busy with programs!”)
  • They don’t want to hire a development pro (“we can’t afford it!”)

These non-profits say they are running full steam ahead… they say they are working hard on programs, spending all of their money on programs, and don’t want to bother their current supporters and friends with more or higher level asks. But… they still want to raise more money.

Does this sound like your organization?

Something’s Got to Give!

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t do things exactly the same way, and expect different results. If you want to raise more money, you’re going to have to do one of the following:

  • Invest more time into fundraising
  • Invest more money into fundraising
  • Try new fundraising strategies (usually, this means making more direct personal asks).

There is no magic button you can push to increase your organization’s fundraising. Just because you want to raise more money doesn’t mean you will. Something has to change.

I Hate to Generalize, but…

The truth is, most non-profits that aren’t raising the money they want to be raising aren’t making fundraising a top priority. They cherish programs… but underfund and understaff the development office. They refuse to spend a reasonable amount on fundraising, hire a Development Director, or require that their board members go out and make asks on a regular basis.

Others do “drive by” fundraising… sure they want to raise money, but they don’t want to “ruin” relationships by sitting down across the table from someone to ask them to give $5,000 today to fund that new program. Instead they hint at the need, and send out an invitation for an event (with no follow up calls or meetings) and then wonder why the big money never rolls in.

If You Really Want to Raise More Money for Your Non-Profit…

You’ve got to do something different. You’ve got to think bigger. You need to invest more time and money into your development operation. You need to put fundraising first (gasp!). You need to make more asks, be more bold, and be ready to spend more of your energy on development… so that you’ll eventually have more money to spend on carrying out your mission.

Don’t fool yourself, or your non-profit. If you want to increase your fundraising output, you’re going to need to increase your fundraising input.

Photo Credit: hownowdesign