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More Money Next Year Part II, The Practical

Last month, we learned with Jackie, a nonprofit executive who experienced five years of fiscal crises at her nonprofit organization. Jackie commits to stopping this yearly emergency. Part I shared the necessary mental frameworks. With these in place, we now turn to three practical tasks.

4. Status. Jackie meets with her finance staff. Sharing her commitment to earn more, they review current funding streams by category to identify the patterns. (See Can Your Organization Obtain More Income? The Seven Sources.) What is happening with major funding sources? Are they decreasing? Increasing? Are any sources or sub-sources declining over several years? Where have they made more effort this year? What payoff do they see? To illustrate and share the data, they create three funding pies for their current budget, their status, and one of their ideal funding sources. The third was drafted at their last strategy retreat and is still “under construction.” More money next year will not be done in isolation. They plan how to educate staff, board members, and key stakeholders about their funding needs.

To earn more, first you know where you want to go, as established in Part One. Second, you need to know your starting place. Your current income is part of this. Where are you now? What does your funding look like? Draw income pies or other easy-to-decipher visuals. How did you get here? What trends exist in your individual fundraising, grants, earned revenue, and other sources? What funding efforts prove useful?

5. Stabilize Current. Doing a good job this year, including filing reports, thanking donors, and related stewardship tasks, supports continued income from existing funding sources. Big picture, how are you laying the groundwork for next year’s income, this year? For instance, Feeding Children Everywhere has nineteen sponsored food-packaging events. To stabilize funds next year, they want to sign up all of these sponsors again because of their great experience this year. How are you stabilizing current funds? Review your current contracts and relationships. Are you fulfilling them energetically? Evaluate the odds of obtaining the same or a similar funding next year. What steps support this? Believe every funding source can be impacted. Decide on actions to take. Schedule them.

Jackie gathers her development and finance staff for a focused meeting on stewardship. During it, they review their current funding sources. For each, they review how to engage them and the benefits each funding source receives from their relationship. They develop immediate follow-up steps for several neglected entities. They plan to ask several tasks forces, including finance, earned income, and development to create complimentary efforts. Jackie asks the development staff to create “engagement checklists” to systematize interactions with investors, donors, and customers. (Click here for an example of a checklist for grant opportunities.)

6. Growth Points. Successful non-profit organizations need at least one new growth area to increase funding. The Florida Center For Child and Family Development, for example, starts a learning institute to reach other providers who can benefit from their knowledge – a mission earned income approach. Might you add earned revenue, planned giving to extend individual giving, or corporate sponsorship (not just tables at your event)? Perhaps your point will be to make extra effort next year in recruiting new individuals to donate.

Successful growth points replace dwindling resources and help you to meet inflation. They can be new sources, i.e., earned revenue, or a sub-source, like planned giving. Commitment to growth fuels hope. Even if you face funding challenges now, growth helps people believe, “Things will get better.” Growth points lead to new skills.

Once you indentify a point, decide the steps needed to move toward it. What next steps are needed — tomorrow? What will you invest? What resources do you need? Explore and answer questions like these to activate your growth point.

Jackie’s non-profit organization’s growth point is increasing individual donations. This fall, they added an annual appeal after doubling their contact list. After talking with her board and staff, Jackie decides to continue this effort. She talks to her direct mail specialist to ask for next step guidance to ensure further growth. While Jackie does not anticipate this growth point will create all the increased funding they need, it will help. The lessons the organization learns about increasing community connections support all their efforts.

End of Part Two/What’s Ahead

With this second set of practical steps that focus on shoring up current funding and identifying a growth point, Jackie already feels more confident about earning more funding next year. Even though she is crazy busy with this year’s emergency appeal, the time she dedicates to More Money Next Year already encourages everyone. She, her staff, and the board are more focused on funding and expressing new energy.

To arrive at More Money Next Year requires changes in thinking, time investment, and actions. Next month, we will continue to follow Jackie as she creates solid plans and take actions to close the gap between what she wants to earn and her current funding.