Increasing Awareness Doesn't Fund Your Mission
October is one of the most important months of the year for organizations whose mission is to end the epidemic of intimate partner violence, also known to many as domestic violence. During the 31 days in October, almost every agency does two things: Raise awareness and raise funds. Typically, this means there are proclamations, speeches and big lunches or dinners. As someone who led a domestic violence organization for nearly a decade, October is synonymous with a frenzy of activities and very little time for much else. Despite the gains in awareness that are achieved, many organizations continue to struggle to make ends meet.
So how can domestic violence organizations—or any organizations—make the most out of their October activities and secure increased funding? The solution is not to add another walk or gala, but to take a closer look at how you can combine awareness and fundraising to achieve your mission and engage investors in your cause.
The process for engaging those who will financially support your cause long term is often seen as a pyramid starting with awareness, then interest and finally investment. As you raise awareness, you start the cultivation process. Once a person is interested in your mission, they need to be further engaged so that action occurs. Ideally, that action needs to go well beyond attending an event. Meaningful action is getting that person to do something that makes a difference.
Instead of the "donor pyramid," here is another way of thinking about how you can capture someone that attends an awareness event and move them through the cycle to becoming a funder. Ideally, and most importantly for this particular issue, following this process also will help you cultivate individuals who act when they see someone in need.
In this example, a local business owner hears about your organization through a sermon that was the result of a coordinated effort to get faith leaders to talk about domestic violence during October. To learn more, the local business owner then attends a training program your organization developed. Research shows that 60 percent of those who take a training will engage deeper if asked. The training leads the local business owner to recognize that an employee is in an abusive relationship and needs help. Now, not only is the local business owner able to take action to help the employee get the personal help needed, but the local business owner decides to become a financial investor because he or she understand both the personal and financial impact that domestic violence has on his or her life and business.
This month, I challenge you to take a look at your awareness activities and see if you have a process in place to engage people beyond that event. Not only will you grow your mission by creating empowered citizens, you will grow your funder base. If you would like help with this process, Convergent and the Making Mission Happen division are happy to help.
Carol Wick is partner at Convergent Nonprofit Solutions. She started her career working with at-risk children and quickly gained national attention of her ability to create and implement innovative and sustainable solutions to century old problems. Over the years, she has developed a proven method that can be applied to any organization to help them grow, build their brand, and attract and retain investors. She has more 20 years of executive director experience and is the published author of several evidence-based studies on program effectiveness. Carol utilizes this wealth of experience to assist nonprofit organizations assess their capacity and take their organization to the next level.