Do you ever find yourself, your team, or your board of directors saying things like:
“If we could just get this one big grant, we’d be set for the year!”
Or, “I think we should hold a huge gala event. If we raise everything we need now, we can focus on programs later.”
Or, “I keep trying to set up a meeting with that big donor. Why won’t he meet with me? If he could just hear about our work, he’d give us the million dollars we need to build our new building! I’m just going to have to wait until he calls me back.”
Statements of these are symptoms of a big problem at your non-profit. They are a sign that you, your board, or your team are waiting for a “magic bullet” to solve your fundraising problems. And I’ve got bad news for you… there’s no such thing!
Magic Bullets are Tempting
I know that magic bullets are tempting. As fundraisers, we go to seminars and hear about setting up donor funnels, building fundraising networks, and making asks. And it seems like a really slow way to go about fundraising. It seems like so much work!
It would be much easier to just get one big check, one big grant, or hold one big event and raise all of the money we need. Then we could launch new programs, build new buildings, and help more people today! Thinking like this comes from a good place… a desire to help more people… but fundraising just doesn’t work like that.
Do You Chase, or Wait on Your Magic Bullets? Both Are Mistakes
Is your organization is chasing every new shiny idea that comes up?
Is your team waiting on a big proposal or relationship to pay off?
In both cases, you are setting a trap for your self in the future.
Chasing after magic bullets can cause your organization’s fundraising to be reactionary, and any growth will lack intention and focus until it is unsustainable.
Waiting on magic bullets often leads to burnout, frustration, and disappointment among your staff and board when those opportunities don’t come through. This can start a dangerous spiral for your nonprofit organization as whole.
So what do you do? How do you avoid falling into either trap?
How Thriving Non-Profits Really Get There
When you see a non-profit that is really thriving… one that is raising the money they need, instead of living “check to check,” and one that is constantly expanding its reach and serving more people… I can guarantee you that it got there the hard way.
Non-profits like that spent time in the trenches, prospecting, cultivating, and asking. They stewarded their donors and encouraged them to upgrade. They asked for referrals to new donors. They built annual giving programs, held in person meetings, made personal fundraising calls. They did the work. They are still doing the work.
And it is paying off.
How You Can Get There, Too
The first step is to take a breath, trust that investing your time in building a balanced fundraising program will pay off for your organization and will be personally rewarding along the way.
Stop Chasing After the Magic Bullets
Start looking for the right opportunities.
Start asking questions like:
- What do I want my organization to look like five years from now?
- How many people am I helping each week?
- Who needs what kind of support?
- Where does my organization fit into the community?
These kinds of questions will help you identify the right opportunities for growth.
The next step is to take action. Do something about it!
Stop Waiting On Your Magic Bullets
Turn your attention to the small steps you can take to move forward. Small steps often lead to bigger ones.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I willing to make the investment of time and energy required to grow my relationships with potential donors?
- Can I give myself permission to say no to distractions?
- Am I willing to ask someone else to help me out?
- Will I commit to meeting with my board once a month?
- Will I commit to talking with donors every day?
If you answer yes to these questions, then you are ready to begin taking action.
You may not have everything figured out yet. But know that you are moving in the right direction and trust the process will be worth it.
You’ll never regret having taken the time to invest in growing your fundraising program.
Don’t wait for a magic bullet to come along and save the day. Instead, get out there and create your own magic.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, you’ll find yourself disappointed. The best fundraising programs are built over years, not months.