This year I have been working with nonprofits on board retreats, strategic planning and overall capacity building. Each of these nonprofits has very different missions, but I’ve been noticing some interesting common threads. They are all dealing with external changes that are causing them to take a broad look and where they are and where they are going. So what’s changing?
· Sources of funding
· Effective approaches to fundraising
· Need for program design updating or re-assessment of need
· Program expectations from people served (what they need/want versus what we provide)
· Expectations from funders (Outcomes, collaboration)
· Donors – Who gives, how they give, importance of building relationships
I bet the same things are changing for you. Some organizations are shedding some programs that are ancillary to their main programs and mission and becoming more focused on doing a better job of what they do best. I am hearing a lot more genuine interest in partnering. And I don’t just mean partnering where a company provides money – I mean actual partnering where more than one organization brings their strengths and skills to the table. There’s a lot more focus on the core.
And of course, many organizations are focused on improving their fundraising. So where should you start? At the very beginning of course!It starts with strategic planning and being energized around your mission. The strategic planning process should be one which re-ignites passion for your mission. If it is approached as a “going to the dentist” activity you are going about it the wrong way. If it is a rote exercise that produces a nice report that nobody ever looks at you missed an important opportunity. If the strategic planning process engages and re-ignites a passion for your mission in Board, staff and volunteers and equips them with new knowledge, skills and goals to carry your message you have taken the first important step in having a successful fundraising campaign.
1. Use that new found energy and passion among Board, staff and volunteers to identify prospects and ways to reach them. Seize the day or Carpe Diem if you prefer the Latin.
2. Energy must be harnessed and organized into effective action. Use the plan to develop your case for support, editorial calendar and fundraising plan. Start building relationships with communication and keep you messages focused and coordinated.
3. Now you are ready to “Make the Ask.” Whether it is direct mail, email, social media, website, major donor face to face events or other, you are now in a place to make the ask with confidence and a passion for your mission.
…..And it all began with your strategic plan.