Jackie studies her current year’s funding projections and groans aloud. Again, to avoid a shortfall, they will need to create an emergency year-end appeal. She pounds her fist on the table. This is it. This is the last time! Next year, she vows it will be different. Twelve months from now, under her leadership, this non-profit will have the funding it needs to avoid this yearly crisis.
Money. Not only is it desirable, it is essential. To cover the impact of inflation and to fulfill your mission statement, your non-profit must earn more. Have you, like Jackie, decided enough is enough, and that next year is the year? Or, perhaps you avoid eleventh hour drama like this, but just need to earn more funding or raise more funds. Whatever your situation is, obtaining more income starts with knowing that earning it is possible. It starts with knowing it is achievable with the right activities. This series outlines them. While much more can be shared, this series offers a quick map for your journey. As, you learn the steps, we’ll follow Jackie, a non-profit executive director with a five-year track record of providing extraordinary service to her community, as she organizes her non-profit organization to earn more funding next year. The thirteen steps ahead will help you to take the right actions next year, and in the years to come. We start with three thinking steps.
All Starts With Thinking
The first three steps of earning more money involve establishing a conducive mental mindset. Despite other needs, or even catastrophes, if you are serious about improving your funding, you will make earning more of a priority.
1. Vision. How much money do you need? Your financial success starts with a specific amount. This amount combines what you want with what you need. For most, it includes meeting your budget plus some growth to meet inflation and new challenges. What dollar amount is necessary? Give this serious thought. Write down the amount of funding you need. My clients find it helpful to determine three: a must-have number, a want number, and, after some consideration, a goal. The funding goal is usually an optimal combination of wants and needs.
Jackie contacts her budget officer and staff for suggestions. She queries several financial types on her board. With this help, they establish a budget for next year that is three percent higher. One and five percent were her must-haves and wants. Her emotional touch point is that one year from now she, her staff, and board will use their energy to celebrate and plan, instead of conducting another all-hands effort to avert year-end fiscal disaster.
2. Believe. Believe that your non-profit cause is worth funding because of the value you provide to the community. Believe you can solve your income challenges. To make this concrete, calculate your value. Read ROI For Nonprofits: The New Key to Sustainability by Tom Ralser to begin to calculate a ballpark figure of the value of your services. Or, for a free peek on how to value your work, listen to a five-minute audio at the bottom of this web page  where I share how to calculate the dollar value of a single referral partner.
Good non-profit organizations offer tremendous value. The most successful non-profit organizations offer stupendous value. Translating your value in dollars will help you to make this reality concrete. Believe you can and will earn more funding next year by providing this value and more to your community. This is not la-la-land thinking, but a belief you hold and act upon that is in your gut. With effort, work, investment, and the continual provision of value, you will reach higher income. Believe.
Jackie listens to her staff, board, and volunteers. To engage them, she asks for information on three-income success and three areas to improve from this year. At the end, almost everyone agrees that a three percent increase is possible and desirable. She talks to her most successful peers. She learns that they too expect to increase their funding next year. Two agree to support her during the year, to help her increase her skills, and to remind her that the goal is attainable if she becomes discouraged. She believes.
3. Realistic Optimism. While related to belief, realistic optimism is more. It is like donning a pair of glasses. The lenses affect how you interpret the world and your work. Use your realistic optimism view to shape your thinking. Vietnam Prisoners of War, who embraced uncertainty (we don’t know when) and faith (we will get home) survived. Others perished.
To earn more money next year, adopt realistic optimism. It will be both challenging and worthwhile. Even if you earn more money in 367 days rather than 364, the goal is worthy. Embrace uncertainty of timing. Mix it with hope. You can get there.
Jackie considers her own mindset. She has been with the organization for five years. Each of the last Decembers, they faced a budget crisis. Jackie decides that this is a behavior that can be changed (faith). She lists the commitments already made for the next year—to begin certification, to finish a building project, and to upgrade staff policies. Improving income is as important as these efforts. Improving funding will help them all. She believes it is possible and is optimistic that they can do it with focused effort. At her regular meeting with her board chair, she shares her thinking. He agrees that changes are in order. They agree that it can happen next year, but they understand that a five-year-old pattern may take longer to exorcise than 52 weeks (embrace uncertainty). It’s worth a multiyear effort if that is what it takes (believe). He agrees to present the challenge to the non-profit’s board of directors as a regular agenda item. They commit to approaching the challenge with realistic optimism.
More Money Next Year
Jackie’s successful non-profit organization is well on its way to earning more funding next year. For Jackie and you, clear and tough thinking is a critical start. Much lies ahead. Next month, we will share the practical steps Jackie takes to earn more money next year, especially securing current funding. In the months that follow, you will learn more about her planning, acting, and evaluating actions. In the meantime, for more information, read some of the many non-profit funding and fundraising articles here.