Follow Social Velocity on Google Plus Follow Social Velocity on Facebook Follow Nell Edgington on Twitter Follow SocialVelocity on Linked In View the Social Velocity YouTube Channel Get the Social Velocity RSS Feed

Download a free Financing Not Fundraising e-book when you sign up for email updates from Social Velocity.

What’s Holding Your Nonprofit Back From Raising More Money?

By Nell Edgington



It is the ultimate question for many nonprofit leaders. But often one that they can’t answer on their own. Perhaps because nonprofit leadership may be so mired in the weeds, or so used to doing what they’ve always done, or simply lack fundraising expertise or  knowledge of new trends and tools. The end result is that they simply can’t figure out how to raise money in new and better ways. Which is where a revenue assessment can turn the tide.

Let me give you an example.

Institute for Human Services (IHS), a large social service agency for homeless men, women and children in Honolulu, Hawaii, enjoyed success in government grant funding, but had been unable to diversify their funding as much as they would like in individual and corporate areas. At the same time, their small fundraising staff was over capacity and struggled to keep up with the volume of work. The board of directors was eager to help fundraise but didn’t know the best way to get involved.

The organization knew they had the opportunity to raise more money, but didn’t know how to prioritize their resources to do so.

IHS hired Social Velocity to conduct a revenue assessment to find opportunities for growing their funding. I interviewed board, staff and external funders to get their insights about fundraising at IHS. Then I reviewed organization financials, materials, technology, staffing, planning, and other processes. From this analysis, I wrote a 30-page analysis with specific recommendations for improving fundraising in each revenue area and presented my findings to the staff and board.

With Social Velocity’s revenue assessment, IHS has hit the ground running making improvements to their fundraising function. They have already hired a new Development Director who has been able to shoulder more of the responsibility for fundraising, freeing the Executive Director to participate in more donor relations activities. They are looking forward to reviving past donors through more targeted fundraising strategies, caring for existing donors and creating broader opportunities for constituents to support the mission more personally. The staff and board are energized by the specific fundraising role and responsibilities I outlined for them. The assessment really turned the tide for them, as executive director Connie Mitchell explained:

The analysis and recommendations turned on the light bulb for me about how an investment in one key development staff could multiply our results over a short time. We’re also confidently using our resources more wisely for a better ROI when it comes to fundraising tools and media strategies.

A revenue assessment is for nonprofit organizations that know they want (or need) to raise more money, but don’t know how to get there. Here are the steps I go through in a nonprofit revenue assessment:

  1. Interview Stakeholders. I conduct in-depth, one-on-one interviews with the executive director, key staff, key board members, and key funders and other external constituents to understand what is working and what isn’t.

  2. Review Documents. I analyze all organization documents, policies, procedures, financials, systems, and materials to understand the internal and external processes for raising money.

  3. Assess Organization. I look at 6 elements of the organizational structure (mission and vision, strategy, operations, etc) to determine how well they contribute to fundraising effectiveness.

  4. Analyze Revenue Streams. I look at all current and potential revenue streams to uncover opportunities for increases.

  5. Review Fundraising Infrastructure. I review all aspects of the organization’s back-end functionality for raising money (such as donor database, materials, systems, technology) in order to uncover areas for increased efficiencies.

  6. Deliver Analysis and Recommendations. I write  a 15-20 page detailed analysis with recommended actions for increasing funding streams.

  7. Present Assessment. I present the assessment and recommendations in-person to staff and board for questions and discussion.

It doesn’t have to be so hard. A revenue assessment can give you a clear road map for moving your organization from financial insecurity to long-term financial sustainability.

To learn more about Social Velocity’s revenue assessment, check out our Revenue Assessment Consulting Service, or email us at info@socialvelocity.net.

Photo Credit: Julia Manzerova

Learn more about nonprofit innovation and
download a free Financing Not Fundraising e-book
when you sign up for email updates
from Social Velocity.


About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


4 Comments to What’s Holding Your Nonprofit Back From Raising More Money?

Tina Crouse
June 12, 2012

Good tool Nell. You found an organization committed to change – not that easy! I once showed an organization that just one development staff brought in $250,000 to the organization but then, they let her go anyway. AND they were already running a deficit.
Nonsense! But it was a ‘Horse to water’ thing.

Would you consider doing a post on how you determined that IHS was the type of organization that would follow through. “Assessing the client’ is a tough one but it’s common to all consulting work, not just non-profits.

Nell Edgington
June 12, 2012

Tina, yes you are absolutely right, an organization has to want to change. That’s a great idea for a blog post, thanks for suggesting it, I’ll definitely add it to the list. Thanks!

[...] The other day, this headline caught my attention: What’s Holding Your Nonprofit Back From Raising More Money? [...]

[...] Category: Leading and managing fundraising. Leave a Comment // By Social Velocity by Nell Edgington, original article [...]

Leave a comment