It All Begins With an Idea
A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem and I’ll arrange a quick consultation offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course!
Bill spoke with me last week regarding his desire to start a nonprofit. He told me that he wanted to start a nonprofit that would build awareness for a particular illness—one with which he suffers.
He understands the process—get an attorney, develop by-laws, submit an application to the Internal Revenue Service for 501c(3) status.
What he wanted to know was how to get started.
I told him it begins with an idea. He has that.
Principle 2 of The Eight Principles™ is Begin at the Beginning™. Once you know your passion, you need to communicate that passion to potential supporters in a manner they will understand. The operative word is “they,” not you. That can be tough.
I went on to say that the underlying driving force for success is passion—genuine energy and drive to make a difference. Success isn’t about money, social media or celebrity endorsements.
Not that money isn’t important, because it is. It’s essential, in fact. That’s where that thing called fundraising comes in. (Awareness is also important, but that’s a subject for another time.)
Money is the result of fundraising—not the goal. So, how do go about raising money without making money your focus?
Raising money for a one-time need fits well into the trendy crowdfunding model. If you’re looking to raise funds for a one-time scholarship effort or rescue mission, it’s very effective. It works.
Creating an ongoing stream of revenue to support an ongoing passion—the will to change things for the better—is another matter.
Once you know your passion and you know how to communicate it to others in a way they will understand, the next step is enlisting leadership to support and come alongside you.
Any organization is only as strong as its leadership. Others will follow the lead of your leadership—wherever it might go. Principle 3 of The Eight Principles™ is Leadership Leads™.
You build your organization by reaching out to individuals who share your passion and asking them to join you. You ask them to share their resources—their time, talent and treasure. It’s that simple.
Don’t waffle. Whenever someone offers one or two of the three, say, “Thank you, but I need all three resources from everyone that joins our leadership team.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get time from Mary, talent from John and money from Julio. With leadership it just doesn’t work that way.
I told Bill that you don’t need a big group to start. You’re building from the inside out. Principle 5 of The Eight Principles™ is, in fact, Work from the Inside Out™. It’s much, much better to begin with three or four totally committed people on your leadership board than 10 or 20 to fill a room. Just get a smaller room, for now.
Funny thing about starting small and sticking to the principles—things tend to grow. Then you have an entirely new set of challenges.
I extend my thanks to Bill for reaching out. I know he’ll be successful as he has what it takes—and the passion to see it through.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me and I’ll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I’ll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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