It’s a question asked at nonprofits across the county every day. Boards raise it. Staffs discuss it. Volunteers confer about it over coffee.
The question? How can we get a donor to give your nonprofit a large sum of money? In the extreme, the question becomes, “How can we get Bill Gates to give us several million?” For the every day version, just substitute Bill Gates’ names with that of an individual, foundation, corporation, or even government entity.
Unfortunately, this is the wrong question. It focuses on you, your nonprofit’s needs, and your gain. Not only is it the wrong question, discussing it takes you off track and wastes time. It leads to frustrating conversations, unproductive answers, and silly solutions.
What question can you ask to earn the thousands or even millions you seek? Ask: what value can we offer to the donor that will be unlikely to be refused and that will help us? This question leads to thinking about donor needs, the value your nonprofit provides and how to link them both.
Break out of old habits.
Stop conversations about what donors can do for you. Start conversations about what you can do with them. Create new possibilities. To earn millions, find ways to express the value you can offer to donors. Figure out how to provide donors the value they deserve and require. Ask: what can you do for them that will also help us?
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Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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