Every now and then we feature content from outside contributing authors who help bring new insights into the world of nonprofits. This article comes to us from Sandy Rees, CFRE at Get Fully Funded.
Probably the hardest thing about working in a small nonprofit is that there’s so much to do.
You have more on your plate than you can ever get done, and the list never ends – more programs to offer, more lives to change, and always, more money to raise.
It’s even more complicated if fundraising is just part of your job and you’re also coordinating volunteers, or running the show. That means you have only part of your day to devote to raising money.
What’s worse, if you don’t have a lot of experience raising money, you can find yourself spending a lot of time being really busy without a lot to show for it.
If that’s you, don’t worry. You can still raise a ton of money for your cause. You just need to focus on the right things.
Follow these four keys to reach fundraising success, no matter how big your organization is or how much experience you have.
- Be the green crayon. In a small shop, it’s imperative that you play to your strengths. If you try to do everything yourself, you might save a little money, but you’ll drive yourself crazy in the process and too many important things will go undone. The solution? Do what you do best and get help with the rest. If you’re the green crayon, don’t try to be the blue one or the red one – it won’t work. Focus on what you do best and you’ll get more done.
To stay laser focused, do only these four things during the day:
- Raise money,
- Increase your ability to raise money (training, webinars, reading a fundraising book),
- Raise awareness, or
- Deepen relationships
Until your fundraising is a well-oiled machine, stick to doing only these four things. That means you may have to give up some things that are taking up your time and aren’t very productive. And in the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
- Look for the red M&M. If you’re trying to appeal to EVERYONE in your community to give, you’re wasting your time. Not everyone gives to charity, and of those who do give, people have their favorite causes.
Think of a bag of M&Ms that come in lots of colors. If they were donors, you’d be looking for just the red ones and ignoring the rest. In other words, look for specific people who think what your nonprofit does is awesome.
Also, stop looking for rich people. Interest in your mission is much more important than household income when you’re building your donor base. Don’t get me wrong – money definitely matters! But if you focus on money first, you’re likely to be disappointed. Instead, find the right people and inspire their socks off. Trust me, they’ll give!
- Use magic words. Most of the language that nonprofits share in their newsletters, social media, and appeals is awful. It’s verbose, full of jargon and frankly hard to read. Want to motivate someone to give? Make it easy for them to understand.
Use short, simple, conversational tones that are free of insider language (which can turn donors off!). Tell before-and-after stories that illustrate the work your nonprofit does. Talk about outcomes and impact, not programs and process. Outcomes and impact are what donors are interested in and want to support. It’s the difference your nonprofit is making. Stories about how you’re changing lives will grab a person by the heart and move them to give.
- Work from a plan. If you don’t have a fundraising plan or if your plan is in your head, you have a problem. Take fundraising seriously enough to get a plan together. Don’t copy what the nonprofit down the road is doing. Create a plan that leverages your personal strengths and the organization’s assets. Do what will get you the results you’re looking for while leveraging your strengths and assets. Always ask yourself: Will this move me forward fast? Is this a good investment of my time, energy, and resources? Will I get a good enough ROI?
Add some structure and watch everything get easier. I’ll explain how in this 3.5 minute video:
Play to your strengths. Build a donor base of the right people. Motivate them with magic works. And work from a plan. This is how you’ll raise the money you need to fully fund your budget and do the most good you can.
Sandy shows passionate nonprofit leaders how to fully fund their big vision, so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 or 7 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect with them through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Sandy is based in Loudon, TN. Find out more about her fundraising system at www.GetFullyFunded.com.