Out of the Mouths of Babes ...
Unfortunately, many successful organizations eventually suffer mission creep — they add programs and initiatives that diffuse their focus. The solution? Get back in touch with the simple idea that made your organization great. Focus on it again and again in your communications. Your constituents won’t get tired of it. After all, it’s why they support you.
Recruit passionate advocates, not merely donors
Today’s cutting-edge charities focus on building a group — a tribe, as author Seth Godin calls it — of people who will rally around their big idea, tell their friends and make the solution reality.
Rob Morris of Love146, a nonprofit dedicated to ending child slavery, says he wants a participant in his organization to become a fan, then an evangelist who tells others, and finally an “owner” with a sense of responsibility for the cause. Sean Carasso of Falling Whistles, a movement to end the war in the Congo, says that his organization can turn someone who knows nothing about the war into an advocate to end it in about a month.
So how does this approach work for raising funds? The process isn’t always clear-cut, and young organizations admit they puzzle over the best way to convert advocates into donors. The advantage is energy, momentum and buzz — enough to take Invisible Children from zero to winning President Obama’s support in just a few short years. And the money does follow. For example, Invisible Children raised more than $7 million in 2011.
So what are the lessons for older organizations? By no means give up the tools you have in place for donor acquisition and cultivation, but make sure you don’t simply view your donors as records in a database. Give them the information and tools they need to connect emotionally to your cause and then share it with others.