Healthy Competition

While fundraising is highly competitive, it is unnecessary to compare your nonprofit, mission, or clients with others.  Internally you and your staff may care about the quality of someone else’s board, their catchy logo, their long list of high-value donors, or dozens of other factor.  Those factors help to attract someone’s initial interest.  However, substance sustains their interest and fuels their engagement.  Besides if someone is talking to you about your nonprofit, they want to hear about your nonprofit in ways that are meaningful to them.

Donors give because there is something substantive going on that is important to the donor.  A flashy logo attracts attention but it does nothing to put a loaf of bread on a hungry family’s table.

When a new organization, product, or service is offered, people notice.  Some embrace it.  Most wait to see if it can fulfill the initial promises.  Most offerings fall short and disappear.  Only those that fulfill their promises have the potential to attract and retain support.

Donors hold nonprofits accountable for fulfilling the promises of their mission statements.  The only comparison that matters: Does your nonprofit do a better job of fulfilling the promises of your mission statement than anyone else?  If so, keep up the good work and trust that your donors and prospective donors will reward your good work.

If you think you are doing a good job of fulfilling the promises of your mission statement and the rewards are elusive, here are three potential explanations: Communication, standards, and expectation.

The most important comparison you can make is this year with last year.  Donors know that population growth and societal changes result in a growing number of people who need your services.  Donors want to know that more clients succeeded this year than last.  That proves that your nonprofit is keeping pace with the demand or reducing the demand by outpacing the growth.

The most important promise you can make is that next year clients will be more successful than this year.  Promising and delivering on increasing mission effectiveness will increase donor loyalty, generosity, engagement, excitement, and attract new supporters.  Keep your promises and your nonprofit will enjoy increasing sustainability.

If your nonprofit consistently out performs its previous year in ways that are meaningful, measurable, and durable according to your supporters, over time your nonprofit will have a highly sustainable funding stream.

Next Step:

Focus on fulfilling the promises of your mission statement and reporting the results in ways that your donors and community value

Compete only with your previous year’s performance

Promise that next year will be measurably better than this year

Flash and glitter will attract some donors.  However, donors will leave if they fail to find the substance they want.  Therefore, it is better to use your resources to create the value donors want and let your results attract them.  Donors who are attracted by the value your nonprofit creates are easier to retain and cultivate.  They are the donors who strengthen your funding stream and add to the sustainability of your nonprofit.

Take It Further:

Focus your donors’ attention on what you and they can do for the clients in the future


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