I have said for years that traditional nonprofit fundraising is broken. So broken. Because if you think about it, nonprofit fundraising is very much steeped in the scarcity mindset. The underlying assumption in most nonprofit fundraising efforts is “not enough.” We’ve seen this very clearly in recent months when so many nonprofits were hesitant to fundraise during the pandemic because they feared there just wasn’t “enough money” to go around. But long before the pandemic, fundraising has been all about scarcity.
When I think about how nonprofit fundraising is typically conducted, an image of fearfully holding out a tin cup to capture the dregs remaining from our market economy comes to mind. That is, in essence, a scarcity approach.
So let’s change that.
Let’s move your money raising efforts from a broken fundraising approach to a much more effective, functional and (wait for it) abundant approach to attracting all the money you need.
The first step is to shift your organization’s fundamental question about money. In a traditional nonprofit fundraising approach, a board and staff ask the scarcity-based question:
“How much money can we raise?”
Instead, you want to move to an abundance-based question:
“How much money will it take to accomplish our goals?”
This abundance question puts you squarely in the driver’s seat. You are no longer beholden to money, afraid of it, or unsure whether it will show up. Instead you are confident in the value you are offering the world (your goals) and clear about how much money is required to achieve that value.
Once you have the answer to this abundance-based question, you can then move into a social change financing approach.
I define social change financing as:
Attracting enough and the right kinds of money to achieve your social change goals.
Doesn’t that feel a lot better than spinning your wheels, desperate to bring some money in the door?
Here are some key ways that a tired nonprofit fundraising approach differs from a much more effective social change financing approach:
- In nonprofit fundraising, money is a source of constant worry and anxiety. But in social change financing, money is embraced as an effective, productive avenue to achieving social change.
- In nonprofit fundraising, board and staff are exhausted and burned-out. But in social change financing, board and staff are energized and excited.
- In nonprofit fundraising, a few board members help bring money in the door. But in social change financing, every board member has a specific and well-understood role in the organization’s money engine.
- In nonprofit fundraising, the organization’s revenue mix is unpredictable and unreliable. But in social change financing, the organization has a robust, fairly predictable year-over-year revenue mix.
And the list of differences goes on and on…
So let’s make 2021 the year we finally decide to turn the corner on the worn out way money flows to social change. Rather than fundraising for scraps, start fully financing the social change you want to see in the world. You can, yes, you really can.
There is lots more about how to move to a social change financing approach in my new book, Reinventing Social Change, which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Porchlight, and BookShop. And make sure you’re subscribed to my email list to be the first to know about webinars, reader’s circles, trainings and other events related to the book. You can join the Social Velocity e-list here.
Photo Credit: Matt Artz