Martin Luther King, Jr. is best known as a prominent civil rights leader of the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1964 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent activism. He is probably most famous for his moving speeches, most notably his I Have a Dream speech.
But have you ever pondered how he financed his movement and what made him a powerful fundraiser?
Martin Luther King, Jr. As Fundraiser
Martin Luther King, Jr. raised money by working for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where he received a modest salary, donations from churches he preached in, and book sales from the five books he wrote before his death. What made him a great fundraising leader?
And he asked a lot. He asked everywhere he want. He understood that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
He promoted the cause, not the organization.
He focused on his mission. He excited people about being part of a cause, not an organization. He showed people how they could make an impact – both through their actions and financial support.
He set an example.
He walked the talk. For example, he donated 100 percent his Nobel Peace Prize winnings to the cause he believed in and worked so hard for.
He collaborated with others.
He knew he could not accomplish his goals on his own. He leveraged his effrots by partnering with others—other people, churches, and civil rights leaders. They all pooled their resources and became more than the sum of their individual efforts. This synergy strengthened the movement—and the financial support for it.
He was financially ethical.
He didn’t hoard what he raised. He took no more than what he needed to support himself and his family, leaving the rest for the cause, He did what he said with the money and reported back on his results.
Wrapping It Up
Martin Luther King, Jr. lived a middle-class lifestyle while promoting and shaping a movement. As an inspirational leader and fundraiser, his efforts changed the world for the better. And isn’t that what we, as executive directors and nonprofit leaders, strive to do?
Let’s talk about where your nonprofit is in its fundraising journey and what your next steps are. You’re invited to schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session with me. During our time together, we’ll clarify the issues your nonprofit is facing, explore possible solutions, and develop a plan of action.
I look forward to speaking with you!