Makarand Utpat

Your Non-Profits’ Fundraising Efforts: Forethought or Afterthought?

Non-profit and fundraising are like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, fish and chips. You get the idea: They go best together. One without the other just doesn’t cut it. Yet somehow, fundraising always falls to the bottom of many non-profits’ priority lists in the blink of an eye.

Forethought: careful thinking or planning about the future

For a non-profit organization, fundraising needs to be the number one item on your marketing plan.  You must have a well thought out plan for fundraising and that plan must continue to shift and change to embrace the changing times. If you leave your fundraising efforts to afterthought position, your non-profit simply will never have a future to look forward to. In effect, it will likely get nipped in the bud.

Afterthought: something done or said after other things because it was not thought of earlier

Without a doubt, fundraising is competitive which makes it easy to push aside. It seems to be human nature to always tend to keep moving the difficult tasks to the bottom of our to-do list. That spells disaster for any organization and particularly for a non-profit. This is why you must clearly define what differentiates your non-profit from others. You must know your competition, and you must be able to clearly communicate why prospective donors should donate to your organization.

Marketing = Fundraising = Marketing = Fundraising

Marketing your non-profit is a necessity, not a luxury:  Having a robust marketing plan is a must-have tool in your leaders’ toolbox and is the only way you can deliver dramatic outcomes.  Fundraising is, like I mentioned earlier, the number one item on your marketing plan. In addition, you need to learn how to engage in every aspect of marketing including fundraising, word of mouth, direct mailing, email marketing as well as social media marketing.  This is how you build your non-profit brand.

Know Thy Competition

Are you competing for attention, support and dollars locally, regionally, statewide, nationally, or internationally?  It could be one or all of the above. No matter where your support might be coming from, competition will always be part of your nonprofit’s extended ecosystem.  Establishing strong relationships with community leaders and organizations is an integral and ongoing activity. Enfold these leaders and organizations into your mission statement and invite them to participate in and host or co-host events for and with your organization. Collaborative efforts could include online auctions, celebrity or activist speaking circuits, gala events all coordinated for leveraging your fundraising and marketing plan.  

A few other activities that go hand-in-hand with your fundraising/marketing efforts include performing competitive analysis and use it to uncover new market opportunities, analyzing strengths and weaknesses, identifying emerging competitors and understanding what strategies are working to attract donors and those that are not.

Surrender to the Need

You must fully surrender to the need for fundraising and marketing for the benefit of your non-profit. Once you get started and realize that they are as good for your organization as bending and stretching is for the human body, you’ll never think of putting it off again. By then, fundraising and marketing will be firmly established in the forefront of your mind!