Are you looking for more money to pay for rent, utilities, administrative salaries, and other core operating costs? What if I told you could find it, with just a few small changes to the way you are currently fundraising?
If your agency is like most nonprofits, you have funding for programs but not overhead. Which results in a situation where your programs are growing, but not your administrative capacity. Which restricts how much mission you can meet. Which, in turn, restricts how much money you can raise. The result is that your nonprofit is struggling to get ahead, constantly under-resourced, with overworked staff.
What do you do?
The answer is to emphasize your nonprofit’s mission just as much as raising money, consider the return on investment of your different fundraising activities, and communicate a strong, consistent message to the community.
Increased mission fulfillment leads to increased funding. As I state in my upcoming book The Sustainable High ROI Fundraising System, to be released in March:
“[You want your fundraising to be] mission-related for two primary reasons. Number one, your agency’s mission is what motivates individuals to give. Individual donors are interested in impacting a problem they care about. And the issue is expressed through your mission. Number two, your mission centralizes your message. You want your community to know exactly what your organization does and what it stands for. Which means your nonprofit must communicate strong, consistent messages. And consistent messages are communicated through word and deed; in other words, they encompass everything the organization says and does. That is why you want your fundraising related to your mission. So you leverage your fundraising efforts with what you are already doing as an organization.”
Reach a High ROI
You also want to get the biggest bang for your buck. And you not only want to raise money, you may also want to raise visibility in your community, strengthen important relationship, or meet mission through the activity itself. Borrowing from my text again:
“Return on investment is calculated by dividing revenues by expenses. It tells you how hard your dollars are working for you, that is, how many dollars your agency can realize per each dollar you invest in that activity.
Some activities yield better results than others. For example, the average return on investment for major gifts is 900 percent, while the average return on investment for special events, not including labor expenses, is 50 percent. Too many nonprofits depend on special events, not their greatest return on investment, especially when factoring in labor costs. Compare the returns on your investment for each fundraising element you would like your development director to implement. See which ones yield the highest financial returns and consider investing your dollars there…Of course, you still need to consider your revenue mix. You need a diversified revenue portfolio to spread risk. Overreliance on one funding source is not healthy. Studies show that nonprofits with two or more revenue channels are more stable than those with one.”
Create a Unique Message
You also need to stand out in the crowd. You want your nonprofit to be seen and heard above all the information thrown at people. To stand out, you must communication how your agency differs from others like you. That involves creating a unique marketing position statement. As I explain:
“A unique marketing position defines what a company brings to the market that is unique, that is, what sets it apart from all other companies like them. Your nonprofit’s unique-marketing-position statement tells the world where your agency fits into the landscape of all the other nonprofits, what your nonprofit’s niche is, and what makes your organization different than others like yours. Knowing your unique marketing position is paramount. To be competitive in the resource acquisition game, you need to tout your nonprofit’s uniqueness just as much as for-profits do.
You formulate your unique marketing position statement by taking your agency’s perceptions of itself, your clients’ perceptions of your agency, your donors’ perceptions, your competitor’s perceptions, and the community’s perceptions and figuring out the one thing all those perceptions have in common. In that one thing they have in common lies your unique value to the market. Once you know how you are different than everyone else, then you can start building clear, unifying messages around it.”
“Your unique messaging needs to be incorporated into your organizational culture. Which means it is in your board recruitment materials, board agenda, promotional materials, speeches, press releases, fundraising campaigns, events, staff training manuals, volunteer training materials, and any other tool you use to communicate about your nonprofit, internally and externally. Your goal is to provide your bullseye groups with the messages they need to spread the word out to the next circle. And then the circle after that. It’s a ripple effect. Community awareness of your nonprofit increases as each circle expands.”
My book gives you much more detail about how can apply these principles to your fundraising. Using these elements gives your nonprofit more financial reserves, money to improve infrastructure, and funds to build long-term financial assets. The idea is to solidify your nonprofit’s financial position and allow your agency to grow its impact and advance its mission.