What if your nonprofit isn’t comprised of people with power, wealth and influence? What if your board chair can’t pick up the phone and raise $1 million? How do you compete when you feel other organizations are supported by power-brokers and you can’t get your message heard?
Here are our thoughts. Use the assets available to you. Build a team and relationships that will serve you for the long run. You may be surprised by the resources and riches available within your network. Here are some suggestions to consider.
First, remember it’s hard to raise money from behind a desk. You have to be constantly out in the community making the case for your organization or institution and developing relationships. This is your work as CEO. It’s also the work of board members and your development director or vice president. Get the pulse of your community and find ways to implement your vision in partnership with others. Take names! Build your list of contacts. Stay in contact. Don’t depend on social media for your communication – build and nurture mutual relationships.
Consistently grow your list of prospective donors. If you need to raise $250,000 we recommend creating a list of people, businesses, foundations and granting agencies who can give a combined total of $750,000. You don’t have the luxury of assuming people will give the amount you request: you need enough prospective donors to cover the reality that not everyone gives. Even if you think it is a “sure deal” make sure you have a Plan B.
Talk with your staff, advisors, board members and friends. Ask them who they know and who they can influence. It’s not only high profile people who can open doors! You don’t know who knows who – if you don’t ask you may be missing an opportunity. For example, our experience has shown that barbers, hair stylists, maids, waiters and waitresses have the pulse of a community.
Keep it personal. If there is someone within your organization who knows a donor or volunteer, ask them to take the time to personally thank those who give their time and money.
Always debrief with your development director. Let him know who you are visiting. Make sure contact information for those you meet is entered in your database. Don’t assume you are the only person with relationships: ask team members for suggestions before going into a “big meeting.”
Become politically astute – know your government leaders and make sure they know you and the priorities of your organization.
You may feel frustrated that your board or staff need to “catch up” with you. Don’t let that get you down. It is your responsibility to communicate with passion and vision, set direction, and invite others to join you.
Copyright 2015– Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.