Many causes face the challenge of imbalanced funding – whether it’s receiving funding for programs but not operations, finding supporters to maintain your organization but not grow it, or just not enough funds. Without resources in the right places, there can be no program growth, no service delivery, no community advancement. But how do you attract unrestricted funding for your nonprofit?

When this happens, you figure it’s time to adjust your fundraising. Time to figure out what fundraising technique needs to be added, what messaging tweak should be included to get the optimum resources flowing. Right? After all fundraising is a process, a skill. A skill that anyone can learn and with the right amount of practice and application one that offers great rewards.

That Special Ingredient

There’s a special ingredient, however. This is the secret sauce that is the heart of fundraising, and will lead to unrestricted funding.

Unrestricted FundingAs a fundraiser you have a secret mission. A hidden superpower. You are the one who builds the possibilities. You make 2+2 >4.

Whether you are the President of the Board or the most junior member of the team, when it comes to fundraising your true role is to lead with vision. You paint the picture of how it all comes together in a glorious working whole. You create the backdrop that gives context – without which your cause is just a collection of people or programs.

That’s a tall order! How can you motivate people to support something as ephemeral as a vision, as unsexy as operating expenses?

Start by asking yourself

…if you are describing a project without a cause.

Unrestricted FundingProjects are easy to talk about. They have a beginning, middle, and end. They have measureable outcomes. They are quantifiable. They have parts that work and programs that deliver. Projects are tangible. We can see a nonprofit project in action, visit a program to get a feeling for its effect.

Yet as a fundraiser you get to share the cause – an ethereal concept. You gather the threads of your programs, the stories of each impact, all the small strategies and objectives and weave them into the large, rich tapestry that makes up your mission.

Can your program successfully function without the organization? To paint that picture for your supporters it may be as simple as including a transition or concluding sentence or two that show how this program fulfills part of your mission. It can be as straightforward as rearranging or renaming the categories on your budget.

Fundraising is about impact.

Your impact is greater than the sum of your programs.

Unrestricted FundingWhen you communicate the vision, when you place your programs against the context of a larger background, people will understand and support the whole.

Some of the nonprofit sectors have crafted a special place for fundraising in their cultures. Fundraising functions are housed in Departments of Development and Divisions of Advancement. The charge goes beyond fundraising to develop the organization, to advance the field, to have impact.

Next time you find yourself with a fundraising challenge, polish up your pen and practice your pitch. Include the big vision beyond the project. Create the context. You have a new role! You are the Guardian of the Mission, the Champion of the Vision.

Now go forth. Develop your cause. Advance your mission. You are fundraising!

 

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8 comments
Prithvi Raj
Prithvi Raj

Hello.. Heidi. I am running orphanage with 42 children in India.your information helps me a lot. very good post. I will try to use it. And also i need how many types can raise fundraising like programs, ticketing and so on.

Ella Rose M'bayinga-Kabia
Ella Rose M'bayinga-Kabia

am so impressed with the post, have been thinking seriously on how to develop my fundrasing skils after my visit to an ophanage of 68 kids am going to work very hard on it and make use of every information i received from you

Deirdre Maloney
Deirdre Maloney

Thanks for the important reminder. Even in our project and data driven world, it's our missions that inspire.

Denise
Denise

Loved this post, Heidi! "Your impact is greater than the sum of your programs," really hit home with me. In my fundraising days, this is the part I loved most--being on the front end of projects and inpiring donors with what could be and all the possibilities. Thank you!

Hanna Cooper
Hanna Cooper

Great post - and so important to be sure that all our good efforts are rolling up to impacting our bigger objectives, rather than being a collection of great ideas or pet projects. I love 2+2>4!

Natasha
Natasha

You're so right...a program is so much easier to 'sell' than a whole vision in many cases. People can see and feel a program and so feel confident to invest in its success. It takes a truly great leader to repeatedly share the bigger vision. Can't wait to pass this post on!

Heidi Hancock
Heidi Hancock

Hey Prithvi, It sounds like you are doing some much needed work in your community. So glad to hear you're finding the information helpful. You might be interested in signing up for the Masters Circle. this is a monthly online discussion about fundraising where we answer your questions about fundraising and cover the topics you suggest. You can check it out and sign up here. http://results.mosaicnpd.com/masters/ Hope to "see" you in the 'Circle. Keep up the great work!

Heidi Hancock
Heidi Hancock

That's great to hear Ella! Keep us posted about your progress and what is happening with your fundraising skill-building endeavors. It sounds like you are starting a great adventure!