Is It Time to Grow?
At some point, smaller organizations have to decide whether to stay small or grow. In order to grow, there usually needs to be an increased investment in development.
But how can you tell if that time is now? Here’s a checklist to help you determine if your organization is ready to ramp up its fundraising efforts — either to expand its services or simply to bring in more funding to support existing programs — and what to do if it is.
ARE YOU READY?
Leadership. The same fundamental factors of every nonprofit contribute to its fundraising success — or lack thereof. The most critical of these is leadership from both the executive director and the board. From these governing bodies comes clear, focused direction with goals that inspire and motivate staff, volunteers, alumni and donors. Unclear direction and a board in conflict with its executive director will hinder fundraising. Enough cannot be said about the importance of leadership. If it’s right and strong, the possibilities are astounding. In fact, magic can happen.
Accountability. Are the dollars coming in accurately and consistently accounted? Is this clearly communicated to all constituents? Occasionally I’ve walked into situations where the nonprofit didn’t know if there was enough to pay the bills, and once I was present when a board reprimanded an executive director for running personal bills through the organization. We are in an era where donors are demanding accountability. The more we can account for dollars spent, the more successful our fundraising efforts will be. When donors see their money being spent well and goals being achieved as a result, they want to give more.
Competition. Small- to medium-size organiztions are particularly challenged in their fundraising efforts by competition and budgets that barely allow for the provision of services to clients, let alone dollars for a fundraising effort that might or might not pay off. Large, successful nonprofits continue to grow while small to medium ones struggle in their shadow. This is because success begets success.