Sometimes (and this is very hard to admit) Bea and I feel like the "bad guy" when it comes to working with nonprofits. That's because we constantly remind our clients that a nonprofit is a business that should pay close attention to the bottom line just like any other business. This requires relentlessly focusing on the donation dollars that are coming in, and ensuring that there is enough money to run successful programs and services.
This doesn't mean that we don't care about a nonprofit's mission. We care a lot about the challenges nonprofits are designed to solve. Yet the reality is that, in order to fulfill its mission, a nonprofit must have a healthy flow of income.
So what is the best way to successfully fundraise?
Very often, the nonprofit founders and executive directors we work with are short on time and resources. Because of this, in this email I'd like to share how we coach our clients towards successful fundraising.
#1 - Focus on the target fundraising market (the "bullseye" approach)
First, we encourage our clients to envision the world of potential donors available to give money to their organization (e.g., board members and their colleagues, donors who give money to similar causes, corporations, philanthropic organizations, etc.). Of these groups, we ask the question: Which of these groups are most likely to give a substantial amount of money over the next 6 months? We then design fundraising efforts (in terms of marketing dollars and solicitation efforts) around these groups.
What is possible if you really hone in on the 2 or 3 fundraising groups who have the highest potential of fundraising return for your nonprofit?
#2 - Write a compelling case statement
Once our clients have honed in on their target fundraising market, it's important to attract their target market with a compelling case statement. A case statement is a document that's 1-2 pages long and serves several purposes:
- it lets potential donors know what the nonprofit intends to do with their donations and why their donations will make a positive difference
- it makes the case for making the donation (i.e, provides solid evidence of the problem the nonprofit is solving)
- it keeps the nonprofit's message clear, concise and compelling
Without a clear case statement, a nonprofit's message can easily get muddled and lost. With a clear case statement, the organization lays out a solid reason for donors to give money. It also serves as the basis for fundraising collateral (e.g., social media pages, brochures, pamphlets, etc.)
So who writes the case statement?
I hate to give you even more work to do, but the person typically responsible for writing a case statement during the nonprofit's early days is is the founder or executive director (i.e. - they fill this role until an official fundraiser is contracted to handle this).
Now, Bea and I are all about making things easy. So we've created questions for you to answer to help you sketch out an initial draft of your case statement.
1. What triggered the creation of your nonprofit? There is usually a very compelling personal story that triggers the creation of a nonprofit. It's important for donors to know this story so that they can feel emotionally connected to your mission.
2. Why does your nonprofit exist? Once you've shared your personal story, you'll want to explain (in detail) the problem you are alleviating or resolving. What data and evidence support your mission? Quantify the problem so that your donors have a sense of how big it is.
3. What outcomes to you anticipate? These should be specific and measurable. Do you want to serve 100,000 homeless individuals over the next 5 years? Improve the literacy of 10,000 adults? What specifically will your program or service achieve with the donation dollars that come in?
4. How are you different from other organizations? If there are other organizations that are doing the same or similar type of work, why have you decided to create your ononprofit? What are you doing differently or better than other nonprofits? What gaps are you filling?
5. How will you create your outcome? Again, be specific. What methods will you use to solve the problem and (most important) why will they work?
6. What has your nonprofit accomplished already? If your nonprofit is a startup, any accomplishment no matter how small, is important. Have you had a successful fundraiser? Significantly improved the lives of 10 individuals? Recruited a high profile board member who will provide a boost to your nonprofit? Make sure to highlight the small, yet significant steps that your organization has taken to date.
In answering these questions, you'll find that you have a solid case statement that can serve as the basis for reaching your target fundraising market!