A L Bean & Company

September 24, 2010

Re-Charging Your Non-Profit

Filed under: Consulting,General,News — artlbean @ 7:09 pm

It is no secret that when an economy struggles, wallets are often closed to non-essential items. People are focused on their own survival and often times the Non-profit community is overlooked in the area of financial support. In my conversations with Non-profit clients and other Non-profit entities in the community, there are certainly less funds to go around. Many corporations have scaled back on making charitable contributions as well.

Non-profit Boards are challenged with moving the organization forward, but conversations that focused primarily on strategy are starting to be taken over by conversations focused on budgets and fund raising. While budgeting and fund raising have always been a major part of a Non-Profit’s efforts, the percentage of time strategizing about ways to get more funding has increased for many organizations. Less money is out there to go around.

Whether running a large or small non-profit, it is now time to re-think your fund raising efforts. Many non-profits are suffering from visibility. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are currently over 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the United States. That being said, there are a lot of organizations that depend on charitable donations as a major source of funds to operate. Most organizations simply are not well known. This creates a major disadvantage in acquiring funds. People tend to donate money to organizations they are familiar with and/or have some kind of tie. For example, people that have family members or friends that suffered from Muscular Dystrophy are more likely to donate to MDA, which supports that cause. Many people simply donate to United Way to make sure they are giving back to the community. If a Non-profit does not receive United Way funds, the organization has to be a little more creative than organizations that do receive funds.

Non-profits are now finding more creative ways of making the community aware of their organizations. From holding events that draw more interest than in the past, to developing a stronger network of potential donors, some non-profits are getting creative. Also, organizations that are developing stronger ties to the media have seen some successes. Holding a fund raising event or program can be more successful if an organization gets television and print coverage. The key is to make the community aware the organization exists. Making sure potential donors are aware of the cause is the first step. Step two is making sure they develop a strong enough passion for the cause to make a donation. This is not always an easy task.

Our experience also shows that in the current economic environment, non-profits with Board members that have strong ties to potential large donors may be doing better than others. In these times, a strong Board is extremely important. The development staff is critical, but a strong Board can make the difference between meager donations and truly meaningful donations.

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