…is that it’s bigger than you think!
One of the things we’re big on at Mosaic is asking. We encourage asking about a lot of things: insight, advice, strategy, opinions, support, and of course funding. One of the things we regularly recommend doing is researching what money might be available to support your cause. And we know that the fastest way to find out is by… yep, asking.
The other day I was speaking with a handful of folks who were in charge of fundraising for a nonprofit that provides education to at-risk youth in a vastly underserved region. They had a new project that needed funding and were looking for ways to expand their fundraising community. And I was, you guessed it, recommending as a part of their strategy that they ask their community members to find out what resources might be available.
After a moment of silence, they told me they felt that it would be a waste of time.
They explained that one of the key characteristics of their cause was how engaged the community was with their efforts. They regularly polled beneficiaries and their families about the programs and often asked what people in their service area wanted or needed from the organization. Asking for insight was not a new process for them, but they needed to be realistic. There was no way that their community could afford to support the nonprofit financially. The money was just not there.
- What if you had several constituencies that benefited from your organizations work?
- What if your donors, volunteers, supporters, and even staff were each constituencies that received benefits from their involvement with your cause?
- What would happen if you developed your fundraising efforts like they were programs that provided a needed service?
- What needs would participating in your fundraising programs fulfill for your donors?
- What would interest those you would like to attract to your cause?
- How could you build your fundraising programs to provide for those needs?
What would happen if you developed your fundraising efforts like they were programs that provided a needed service?
The light came on in the group of fundraisers when one of the members pointed out that all the people on the call had come from outside the “community.” They were all there (from several countries even) because they experienced benefits from supporting the nonprofit. They were gaining experience developing programs, meeting new people with similar interests, feeling good about being a part of the work of the organization.
And that was just the beginning. The group began to brainstorm new fundraising programs and new people that they might serve with their expanding list of newly discovered benefits.
Sometimes in our work, where our every waking moment is focused on providing our services, we develop a blind spot.
We begin to think the impact of our cause is only felt through our official programs or services. That our reach is only as broad as our mission constituency. That this is the scope of our community. If we take a step back we start to see different people who are benefiting, different impacts that are experienced, and a world of opportunities to connect opens in front of us.
So if you take all your constituencies, even the ones you maybe didn’t know you have, toss them together, shake it up – what do you get?
One big community.