As we work to develop a fundraising plan, we need to look at both our strengths or assets and our weaknesses. Last week, we focused on our strengths. You can read here about the asset identification process. While we might like to push our challenges aside, in the fundraising world, we need to be honest with ourselves and look at them. It is only when we know what they are that we can address them and turn them into assets.
Recognizing your organization’s weaknesses can help you develop strategies to minimize them.
Please note, we are not suggesting that you let everyone know what your weaknesses are; this is an internal process that forces you to honestly look at the organization and then develop a plan to determine which weaknesses are impacting your ability to raise the funds you need to provide services.
For instance, perhaps one of the biggest weaknesses facing your organization is that you are in a community that is relatively low income. You have very few donors and even fewer who are able to make significant contributions to your organization. The weakness that could be listed is “few donors.” Listing the weakness is the easy part, now it’s time to get creative.
If your weakness is a lack of donors who have the potential to give significantly, then begin thinking differently. Perhaps you have a lot of connections in your community and know a lot of people. While you are taking the time to build your list of major donors, work on building your donor base. This is done through an education process.
You see, most people who have capacity to give at lower levels do not really think their gift makes a difference. But, as a nonprofit leader, you know that every single gift makes a difference and that every gift when combined with others begins to add up. Develop a fundraising campaign that educates people about how their small gifts can make a difference. Help them to see that $5 or $10 will make a difference. How will small gifts be used by your organization?
Or perhaps one of your biggest weaknesses is that you are your community’s “best kept secret.” Your time will best be spent getting the word out about the great work you are doing. Take the time to develop a communications plan that includes a strong, effective website, social media, and print materials. Find ways to make your work “news-worthy” and send the local newspaper press releases about your accomplishments. As you educate the community, you will naturally begin coming into contact with donors and those who can support your work.
From these two examples, you can see that the types of weaknesses that need to be looked at when developing a fundraising plan can be varied. Unfortunately, for most organizations there is not a line of people who are waiting to give money to support your good work.
Honestly looking at the weaknesses and challenges experienced by your organization will help you to understand how your requests for funds are being viewed by potential donors. Then, you can develop a plan of action to overcome them. Know though, that sometimes “fixing the problem” will take a bit of time….this will be time well spent that will benefit the organization in the long run.
And, sometimes you will need outside assistance to help you overcome those challenges. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Feel free to contact us if you have questions that we can answer for you.