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Three Action Steps to Kick Start Your Fundraising

Jan 3, 2019Leadership

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Mary is struggling to raise money for the nonprofit organization she started 12 years ago. She is tremendously passionate about her work, and her work is vitally important to inner city, low-income children who desperately need the program and services offered.

Mary has a hard time getting her board to financially support the nonprofit. Some of the board members have the capacity to give at a significant level, but they do not. She has board members who have contacts in the community, but the members don’t come through when asked to make introductions.

Mary has had success stories published and on her website, sent hand written thank you notes from the children to the small number of major donors, and successfully secured a small number of grants from local foundations. The nonprofit serves their mission on a shoestring budget of less than $300,000.

What can Mary do to raise more money?

Here are immediate next steps I think Mary should take:

1.    Fire some board members! Yes, if board members are not passionate and fully committed to this organization, it is time to part ways. Board members have been asked to give at their comfortable level, and they have not given. Board members have been asked to help with introductions, and there has been no movement.

2.    Go to the giving well. Ask those who are giving to give more. Chances are there is money left on the table from current donors. Start by asking loyal donors if they can give more and for a specific program aligned with the their interest. Mary is providing great services, impacting lives, and creatively thanking current donors. Now is the time to make some bold asks.

3.    Develop a hot prospect list of 20 new names. Ask current donors for names of others who they believe would support the organization. Ask them to make introductions. Have board members to join Mary on a visit. Make sure to plan the visit and have a strategy.

Over the next couple of months,

1.    Hold a half day board retreat and have each board member share 1) why they serve on the board, 2) what they believe in their own words is the mission of the organization, 3) a recent story of impact that signifies the nonprofit is making a difference. This should energize the board and let Mary know who is fully committed. She is also guiding them through the creation of their own elevator speech! Board members are now set up to be advocates for the organization.

2.    Start to rebuild the board: Recruit board members who are passionate, connected in the community, action oriented, and of a giving spirit.

Mary (name changed!) is someone I met with recently and respect very much. What would you suggest to help Mary? Send me your suggestions! 

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising guide. She provides overwhelmed nonprofit leaders 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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