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Finance and BudgetsFunding and Sustainability

Raising a Reserve: Evaluate Your Weaknesses

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. While we might like to push our challenges aside, in the fundraising world, we need to be honest with ourselves and look at the organization from every angle.

Recognizing your organization’s weaknesses can help you develop strategies to minimize them.

Please note, we are not suggesting you share the weaknesses with everyone. This internal process forces you to take an honest look at the organization to determine the weaknesses that are impacting your ability to raise the funds needed to provide services.

For instance, maybe your organization serves a community that is relatively low income. You have very few donors and even fewer who are able to make significant contributions. The organizational weakness could be listed as “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 can only give at lower levels do not really think their gift makes a difference. But as nonprofit leaders, you know that every single gift makes a difference and every gift when combined with others begins to add up. Develop a fundraising campaign educating the community about the significant difference their small gift can make. Help them to see that $5 or $10 will make a difference. How will small gifts be used by your organization?

Maybe, 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 with 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. Be active on social media-sharing your successes with those who “follow you.” As you educate the community, you will naturally begin encountering donors and others who can support your work.

These two examples demonstrate the types of weaknesses that need to be looked at when developing a fundraising plan. Unfortunately, people are not waiting to give money to support nonprofits doing good work.

Honestly, looking at the weaknesses and challenges experienced by your organization will help you to see your funding requests through the perspective of a potential donor.  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.

On occasion, 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.

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