It Is Not about the Money

Nonprofits often talk about fundraising as if it was about raising money. It is really about raising support.

Support comes in many forms. All of the various forms (donors, volunteers, referral sources, and advocates) have the potential and capacity to provide money but in different ways at different times.

In a recent article, we talked about defining a sustainable funding stream. The article challenges the reader to select a way to measure the sustainability of a funding stream and select a goal that will ensure sustainability from this list number of high-value donors, donor income ratio, number of new donors, size of the community support, and growth in clients served. As you can see, the choices are unrelated to money.

The right goal will produce, as a by-product, the money needed to sustain the nonprofit and its mission. Put another way, the right goals will produce the intended results.

The right goal will also make the process easier. As an example, let us consider the goal of having the right number of high value donors. This goal forces the fundraising effort to focus on recruiting the right donors and cultivating the donors. The first step is to recruit donors who are passionate about the mission. Through cultivation, it is possible to awaken, encourage, and enable the donor’s passion to grow. The byproduct is to have a loyal, enthusiastic, and generous donor.

Loyal, enthusiastic, and generous donors require very little maintenance. They respond well in a crisis. They recruit other donors. They usually leave a final gift.

In order to have a loyal, enthusiastic, and generous donor, you must have a personal relationship with the donor. The relationship must be deep and meaningful. That type of relationship depends on caring about the person and trusting the person’s passion to guide his or her monetary response.

In short, building a strong donor base is about collecting friends rather than collecting money. If the process becomes about the person’s money, it results in the person feeling devalued (their money is more important than they are).

Next Step:

Decide which goal is right for your nonprofit at this time

Determine how to focus your attention to achieve your goals

Keep the constant need for money from distracting you from your goals

It is less work to have a sustainable mission with a sustainable funding stream than it is to raise enough money to support the operations each year. However, it takes longer to be successful and it requires a focus on the future.

Which are you going to do? Chase the money or cultivate long-term success?


Comments are closed.