Non-profit leaders are phenomenal people. In fact, they are some of the most inspirational people that I know. They volunteer their time and talents unselfishly to their chosen organization. Many of these leaders found themselves involved with that organization because of a personal connection, passion, or tragedy. Their charity work is a labor of love.
Throughout the years of working with non-profit leaders preparing for #givingtuesday and end-of-year giving campaigns, a common theme has resonated. Many organizations are just not comfortable asking for donations. Sound familiar?
Wait! Let me get this straight. Your organization is a 501(c)3 sanctioned to carry out a specific mission on a tax-exempt basis. The only way to keep the lights on and do more good is to build a sustainable donor base and capture donations. But the organization is uncomfortable asking for support. If the organization isn’t asking for support then how in the world do they expect to receive it? How else exactly do you expect to stay in the green?
Fund development in philanthropy is the key to success. Every member of the team must be personally involved in fundraising and be a voice for the organization.
If leaders aren’t comfortable asking for money, the organization’s messaging and mission statement might need sprucing. So let’s talk about that. What does the mission statement currently say? Simply stated, it should encapsulate who you are, who are serve and how you serve that group. A strong mission statement should be clear and concise not filled with fluff. It should announce to the world why you exist. Nail it with simplicity and one that rolls off the tongue easily. A strong mission statement should be concise, memorable and inspiring. Your programs should then align with your mission.
If you tweak your organization’s messaging and get bold and confident, that is the first step. The second step is that everyone in the organization needs to buy in to evangelizing the message as an ambassador; don’t expect everyone to embrace the change. Expect some shakeout. Some employees and volunteers may leave. Let them. Find new enthusiastic employees and volunteers who will buy into your mission, your goals and your vision. Stay the course and have the confidence to lead. The results will follow.
Success starts with making an ask. In the Bible in Mathew 7:7 refers to making an ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Repeat after me … We are a 501(c)3, and starting today I will stop apologizing. I will ask for your time, talent, or treasury because I believe in this cause and our impact. I will not eat humble pie.
So, how do you make the ask?
Powerful questions that you can use to garner support are: Can we count on your support? Will you help us? Use them! I stole “Can we count on your support?” from “In The Bag.” In The Bag raises $145,000 in a one-day purse auction event that benefits the National Capital Region of the American Red Cross. The group of amazing ladies pictured in red dresses ask and ask and ask unapologetically for support.
When you ask nicely, it makes it hard for people to say “no.” So be brave and never apologize for doing good! People are giving to some organization because they were asked. It might as well be yours!