The Four Stages of Nonprofit Income Development

Which stage are you in?

Stage 1: Over Our Heads and Can’t Swim

Characterized by: Nonprofit income is a mystery. How can we get a famous donor to fund us? Funded by beginner’s luck or the founder.

Vulnerable to: Quick fix promises.


Stage 2: Any Money, Any Time

Characterized by: Frenetic and unconnected income development plus smoldering hope for a miracle.

Vulnerable to: Being pulled off track by fake green grass in neighbor’s yard.


Stage 3: Know the Plan

Characterized by: A logical long-term plan, and resignation to do disciplined hard work, plus fear and impatience. Will this really work for us? How soon?

Vulnerable to: Time management challenges and, welcome, but distracting windfalls.


Stage 4: Viable

Characterized by: Increasing sense of solid income and desire to improve, i.e., how can we grow more major gifts?

Vulnerable to: Acceptance of mediocrity, believing the journey is done.


Note: Boards often lag behind staff.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely at the Top

woman standing in front of maze

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