What lies between you and more funding for your nonprofit organization? Less than you think. Does something keep your nonprofit organization from reaching the next funding level? Here are eight key income building blocks to help you evaluate your nonprofit organization’s ability to step up and earn more funding. As you read, rank your organization from 1 to 5, with 5 represent full use of that building block at your organization.
You create results worthy of investment whether you label them outcomes, outputs, or products. You change lives. You offer donors the chance to participate in helping to improve lives. If you can’t articulate the specific results of your work, ask your customers. Then, identify and categorize what you learn. Results are the foundation of all income–they are the value you provide.
Good word exists about you “on the street.” When people talk about your efforts, you hear a positive buzz. This is no accident or byproduct. You intentionally let people know about your value. You are never too busy to get the word out. For help, read Sarah Durham’s book Brandraising.
You control the number of mission and income generation ideas you undertake. (Uncontrolled, they swarm around you like mosquitoes at dusk and they keep you busy swatting but not making progress.) You focus on one, and no more than three to energize you, your board, and your staff.
You ask people for money. One of the top five reasons people donate because you asked them. While passive asks –such as mentions in your newsletter–help, they are insufficient. You need to make specific requests for financial support from individuals regularly. “Will you donate to the annual appeal?” Your marketing efforts (#2) encourage people to give. When you fail to ask, your potential donors assume you don’t need the funds.
When you mention your board members, people nod and indicate their respect. People want to be part of your organization because they know that your board members take things seriously if they don’t create a nominating committee to look at board member recruitment. The Executive Director is one of the group’s leaders.
You have a strategy to grow a community of supporters every year. A neighborhood school’s community is the families it serves and its neighborhood. If you’re a parenting education program, your community includes parents and all people in your service area who care about children and families. Who is your community? How do you engage them? How will you reach more of them?
You have a strategy to thrive. Your “business model” identifies reliable income that will fund you long into the future. Your model works in the real world. When local foundation leaders talk about you– they do so with respect for your nonprofit’s ongoing position in the community.
While you might do it alone, you recognize that partners allow you to leverage resources, bring new dimensions to your work, and provide your customers with better outcomes. You find partnerships to start or improve every year.
How did you do? Now, total your score and compare it to the categories below.
Choose one of the blocks to improve in the year ahead. Then, print this page out and store it in your tickler file, retake it next year. How have you grown? For more help raising revenue, read the first chapter of Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
If you want to know even more about nonprofit revenue, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you raise more money to help your nonprofit thrive. Schedule a time for a free discovery chat here. -Karen
Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.
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