Keeping the Profit in Nonprofits

By Dr. Tim Martin
Let’s face it!! Nonprofit organizations and entities live and die by the funds raised through donors, strategic partnerships, strategic initiatives and events. Most nonprofits are struggling to attain their financial goals during this time of economic uncertainty nationally and globally. The financial forecast by many economist calls for more cloudy skies ahead for nonprofits.
Contributions are a challenge in anything that requires a culture of giving to sustain progress and promise. Economic uncertainty is always a sure thing. Unfortunately, many nonprofit organizations have matched that level of uncertainty as it applies to fundraising and increasing contributions. The approach taken by many nonprofit groups in response to economic uncertainty, reveals no clear strategy to counteract or even cause giving and donations to become a sure thing.                      
Recommendations for Fundraising Strategy/Approach
1.    Always be seeking what drives donors to make financial investments. This allows you to zero in on the attraction pattern that persuades contributors and design approaches that focus on their desires. People give to 1) purpose, 2) passion, 3) personalized experiences, 4) potential impact.
2.    Show and share personal stories. Stories of people and/or certain communities that have been effected through giving initiativesThe power of personalization moves and motivates people to want to share in the process. 
3.    Leverage existing relationships, memberships and partnerships to engage in direct marketing. Examples: emails, phone, social media, web and specialized advertisement. Using people with in your organization adds credibility to the cause of your organization.
4.    Fundraising efforts need to give answers not create questions. If the why and what of fundraising initiatives are confusing it will complicate the desire to give. Communication surrounding fundraising must be concise, clear and consistent.
5.    Have a user friendly systematic fundraising software program. This allows any fundraising strategies to flow through a healthy structure. It also maximizes the time involved with planning and executing the initiatives. Accountability is also heightened. 
6.    The key to fundraising with nonprofits is focus on faith-raising. People want to know you have bought what you are selling. Establishing trust is paramount. When people have faith in organizations their funds follow.  
7.    Establish Donor recognition and celebration programs. Showing gratitude sustains a donor’s positive attitude about giving. Examples: Thank you cards, honor roll, giving level recognition by name, appreciation banquet, honor in publications, invite to share their story of influence, alumni of the year awards and corporate sponsor of the year.
8.    Plan strategic fundraising events that can become special experiences for people.  Key point: Make them events where people feel they received more than what they had to give.
9.    Be open to fundraising models that can be modified to make a difference in your own organization. What works is more important than where it worked. Methods may change but principles never do. Examples of Models: membership motivator, market maker and local nationalizer.
10. You will be surprised what can happen if you just ask. Social media and web platforms need to provide opportunities for people to give. One of the greatest leaders of all said, “ask, and you shall receive”. People want to be invited to give not intimidated into giving.
To make the difference most nonprofits were created to make means a profit has to be made. A goal to break even guarantees survival not success.
The challenge in any economic slow or unpredictable season is to become creative and courageous. Nonprofits must have a clear, concise, consistent and creative strategy in place that becomes a bridge that keeps the organization above the rising waters of uncertainty and carries it over, through and beyond.
Tim Martin is an Executive Life Coach at Issak Life Firm. For more information and to further discuss this article contact Tim at
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