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The Past Informs the Future

The long-term sustainability of your mission and its funding stream depends on the foundation you lay in the next 12 months.

Take a moment and think about all that your fundraising team is able to do today and all that you wish it could do. Think what your nonprofit’s fundraising teams were doing back 20, 10, and 5 years. Now ask yourself the following questions:

What could previous fundraising teams have done that would have created more opportunities for you today and eliminated some of the hurdles you face today?

What do you wish those fundraising teams would have stopped doing?

What do you wish those fundraising teams would have done more of?

What do you wish those fundraising teams would have started doing?

While it is impossible to change the past, it is possible to use what you have just learned about the past to change the future. Now think out 5, 10, 20 years, ask yourself the following questions:

What opportunities do you want the future fundraising teams to have?

What hurdles do you hope they will never have to face?

Now you are ready to leave a legacy that is much better than the one you received. You have a chance to significantly change the sustainability of your mission and its funding stream by answering the following questions:

What can the current fundraising team and board do to lay a foundation that gives future fundraising teams more options and fewer hurdles?

What should we stop doing today?

What should we do more of?

What should we start doing?

As an example, think about your board. What could it be doing to help with fundraising (policies, activities, planning, attitude, etc.)? What cultural, educational, training, and recruiting changes could have been made 5 years ago? Most, perhaps all, of those changes would help to make future

fundraising easier. It is unlikely that any of the change will have much effect this year. However, if you start the change process this year, next year and the future will be much better and your mission and funding stream will be more sustainable.

Next Step:

Perform the preceding analysis

Share the results of your analysis with the board’s fundraising committee

Work with the fundraising committee to create a plan that will change the future of your nonprofit’s fundraising

Fundraising has to be done every year but it should never be about reaching this year’s goal. It should be all about laying a foundation that will make it easier to reach future annual and special goals. The ease or difficulty of reaching this year’s goals is an evaluation of the foundation that past years have laid.

If you want fundraising to be easier in 5 years, do the hard work of laying a better foundation this year.

Take It Further:

What foundations do other nonprofits have for their fundraising that you can adapt to create a better foundation for your nonprofit?

What idea can you find by examining other nonprofits that will help you answer questions like:

What should we stop doing?

What should we do more of?

What should we start doing?

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