I was in Atlanta last week speaking at NeighborWorks America’s National Fundraising Symposium. I really love speaking to nonprofit staff and board members who are in the trenches trying to raise money for their organizations. The same thing that happened in Atlanta always happens. The group started out tired, uninspired, worn out with fundraising. But then I started to describe Financing and the light bulb went on. And for the rest of the day when I talked with attendees, or heard them talking to each other, they would try out this new word, this new concept, “Financing.”
But it’s not just semantics. Financing is a fundamentally different approach to every aspect of a nonprofit organization. For the group in Atlanta, I laid out the five main elements of it:
- Create A Financing Plan
Nonprofits must create a comprehensive strategy for bringing enough, and the right kind of, money in the door to achieve their strategic goals. This includes revenue and capital, programs and infrastructure dollars, and all funding sources. Money must be understood and used as a tool, instead of feared and sequestered.
- Connect Mission & Money
The financial woes of many nonprofit organizations often stem from a misalignment of mission and money. A nonprofit leader who creates a financial engine for her organization that is fully connected to and supportive of its mission (instead of detracting or isolated from it) will enjoy financial sustainability.
- Diversify Funding
Relying on only one or two funding sources, particularly foundation grants which make up less than 2% of all the money flowing to the nonprofit sector, is a dangerous strategy in the nonprofit sector. It is far better to create a robust and diverse money mix that fits well with your nonprofit’s mission and competencies.
- Invest Supporters
As mounting research demonstrates, donors are increasingly looking to become engaged in the nonprofits they support. And they are looking for impact, not just a place to write a check. In order to attract these donors, nonprofits must articulate their value and convince supporters to become a partner in creating social change.
- Find Money to Build
The time for scraping by and never having enough money for the right technology, staff, and systems is over. Instead nonprofits must become savvy about capacity capital and start raising the money they need to build the organization their mission requires.
It is so inspiring to see people who are on the front lines of creating stronger schools, neighborhoods, communities in this country suddenly realize that it doesn’t have to be so hard. You can stop beating your head against the fundraising wall.
Photo Credit: billaday
As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I spoke at the Women’s Collective Giving Network’s national conference last week about the Power of a Theory of Change. I have been doing a lot of speaking to nonprofit conferences, boards, donors and other groups around the country this year, and I love it. I get really excited about helping people see things in new ways.
If you’d like to see a clip from my Power of a Theory of Change speech, you can view it below, or by clicking here to watch if you are reading this in an email.
Some of the other topics I speak about to nonprofit boards, staffs, donors, conferences include:
- Financing not Fundraising
- Where Nonprofits Fit in the Social Entrepreneurship Movement
- The Future of the Nonprofit Sector
- Jump Starting Your Board
- Creating a Financing Plan
- Messaging Impact
- Creating a Succession Plan
- Leading Honest Conversations Between Funders and Nonprofits
- The Critical Connection Between Mission and Money
If you’d like to learn more about my fees and availability for speaking to your group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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