Nonprofits Are Hurting Themselves in 4 Ways

Jul 23, 2020Leadership

Nonprofits-are-hurting-themselves-in-4-ways Leadership

Nonprofits are hurting themselves. They are not asking for gift and are hesitating to contact their most loyal and largest supporters.

I am on a not-for-profit board and help with fundraising. One of our loyal supporters is a healthcare related organization. In fact, they have supported us for several years, with increasing

When the virus struck, we hesitated to seek their support, thinking their funding would be strictly directed to health-related missions. We waited. Actually, we sat on the proposal.

Finally, we shared with the supporter updates of our status, how our work is more important than ever to our community, and the value of their support.

Their reply was quick. We were met with a positive response and invited to submit a proposal.
What a relief!

Absolutely, we all are in new territory and not sure what is appropriate in asking for funds during this unprecedented and uncertain time.

In my mind, this health-related industry sponsor would not support us. Surely, they were only supporting one area – health-care. Clearly, I was deciding for them. That is not a good strategy!

Fundraisers are not asking and are hesitating — like I was – to contact their most loyal supporters.

Seemingly, nonprofits leaders are not seeking support from those who have given to their organization and believe deeply in the cause. Recognize if this is happening with you or at your organization.

Don’t be a roadblock in raising more money for your organization. Recognize if you are hesitating in asking for additional support.

Furthermore, there are four ways nonprofits are hurting themselves.


#1 Not Asking for Money

Today – right now, I want you to stop what you are doing and look at your list of top donors who have given over the past three to five years or longer.

Who on that list has not given since the crisis or at their capacity?

You have been practicing good stewardship and engaged your major donors.

If you have not asked your top donors to support you as you struggle to meet needs and serve your audience, it’s time.

Donors want to hear from you. They want to be asked.

Don’t miss the opportunity to ask a donor to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Certainly, get comfortable asking for support over and beyond what’s already been provided.

Not all individuals and businesses have been financially devasted by the virus crisis. And they don’t know how to help unless you let them know.

They will respect you for looking out for the organization and having it in your best interest.

Absolutely, let donors know your status. Ask for their support. And let them know what their gift
will do.


#2 Not Asking for a Stretch Gift

A few of the best words you can hear from a donor is “That’s a stretch,” or “That’s quite an increase.”

They may follow that response with, “but I will see what we can do.”

You want to ask your donors for an increase in giving. You are constantly growing your donors’ engagement and giving to your organization.

Consider the amount the donor has made in the past to your organization and also to other nonprofits.

Without a doubt, your ask needs to be suitable for each donor. But at the same time, stretch the donor to give more.

Ask, “Would you consider a gift of $5,000 to support our operational needs?”

It is an easy and gentle ask.

If the donor comes back with a lower gift amount, that’s ok! It’s a win when you receive additional funds!

Make a stretch ask. And don’t leave money on the table.


#3 Making a Surprise Ask

Consider emailing a top donor from your list, and ask if they have time for a call.

Let them know you want to talk with them about a gift . . . or supporting you in a specific way.

You don’t want to surprise your donors with a phone call asking for their support.

Donors need to have a heads-up and time to think about making that additional gift.

This is to your advantage.

First and foremost, you don’t want to catch donors off-guard with an ask.

Think about this: The worse that can happen is the donor says, “We cannot make a gift right now.” “But when we can, we will. We fully support your efforts.”

Remember, you are not calling strangers asking for money.


#4 Painting a Picture of Sinking Ship

Make sure your message is clear: You are not a sinking ship. This is when nonprofits are hurting themselves.

No question, you are on top of it. You are making thoughtful decisions and taking measurable actions.

If fact, you have applied for grants and received PPP funds, for example.

In addition, your board is engaged and on top of matters. You are proud of how the board and staff have navigated this crisis. Your organization is monitoring income and expenses, adjusting the budget, and taking action.

Above all, your goal is to survive and thrive.

Messaging with your donors is upbeat. Nevertheless, you need help more than ever.

Again, be transparent about your status. Let donors know what you are doing and how their funds will make a difference.


In Summary

In summary, many nonprofits are not asking for money right now. These nonprofits are hurting themselves.

Recognize if you are being hesitant about seeking additional support. Then shift your mindset and strategies.

Most definitely, you should be asking your most loyal supporters for additional funding during this time.

Donors are honored to hear from you and want to be a hero for the organization they love.

They want nothing more than to advance the mission. You chose them to help!

No doubt, they will know you are a strong leader because you asked for their support.

It’s a compliment to be asked – you will not offend them.

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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