Firm Financial Footing Essential Preparation for Campaign Success
"Never think you need to apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy cause, any more than as though you were giving him or her an opportunity to participate in a high-grade investment. The duty of giving is as much his or hers as is the duty of asking yours." — John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
It was a paradigm shift. There were so many worthy causes that were struggling.
All it would take was, to some, just a little bit of money to ensure their success.
Then, an early nonprofit and fundraising mentor rocked my world. "Why should someone make a major gift to an organization that doesn't have a stable track record or a high likelihood of survival?," he asked. "People want to be a part of a winning cause."
Wow ... so, success breeds success?
A key factor in our conversation on the importance of being prepared for a major campaign is financial stability. A gift to a worthy nonprofit is a high-grade investment. You wouldn't invest in a company that you felt was poorly managed financially (we spoke about the board and CEO's leadership role last week).
So, if you are looking at a major campaign, be sure that your financial house is in order. Consider these questions:
- What are your sources for philanthropic support and potential earned income?
- Do you regularly balance your budget? Do you have appropriate financial policies and oversight?
- Do you have operational reserves so that you are not surviving day-to-day or week-to- week?
- Is there an endowment or other stable source of income? Have you protected and managed the endowment well?
- Do you have financial projections on any new projects you are considering — cost to build as well as the cost to operate (and any resulting income projections)?
Some struggling nonprofits may argue that in order to do all of the above, they need more money. But proving your organization knows how to manage and steward donations — even if less than desired — is key to securing more support.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.