Show Me the Money: What Every Non-Profit Leader Should Know Before Asking

Posted on December 15, 2014. Filed under: Data, SWOT | Tags: , , , |

It’s time for fundraising and you’ve perfected your elevator speech. Once-upon-a-time this may have meant that you’d do most of the talking, and you would have all the answers to the same set of highly anticipated questions. But as funding sources have dried up, and dollars flow less freely, those who have typically given to your organization along with first-timers may be asking more (and tougher) questions before investing in your non-profit. Here are some suggested things to include as you make your pitch and as donors critically evaluate the causes they will support this year:

  • Be clear on your mission, goals and objectives. Know what progress you’ve made toward achieving them.
  • Know your numbers. Donors will want to quantify your worthiness. How much, how many, how long, how far, averages, medians, percent increases, percentile ranks, ROI, etc. You get the point.
  • Be prepared to talk about threats, challenges, and even failures. More importantly, provide clarity on how you have (or are) addressing them.
  • Distinguish how you are different from other organizations doing similar work. Be knowledgeable about how you compare to them.
  • Mention any synergy, collaboration, or partnership with other organizations that is favorable, for example, talk about your public/private initiative with a local area school.
  • Mention what is new. If you have new initiatives, new employees that bring a special skill, or new board members, this may be of interest.
  • Talk about how your organization is managed. Focus on how you have utilized funding, improved effectiveness, expanded outreach, formed a sub-committee to address a particular concern, etc.

No leader will be able to accurately predict every question, but the guidelines above will better ensure that you are prepared to compete for dollars in a tougher economy. Good Luck!

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