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.
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.
Projects 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.
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!