Nonprofits too often look at fundraising only as a means to making money to accomplish their agendas and pay their staff, so much so that they neglect to integrate fundraising into their plan as a whole. Nonprofits that do incorporate fundraising and development into their organizational strategy are the ones that end up being successful, however. Why? Because fundraising makes your organization stronger and eventually high functioning, in the following ways.
1. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Plan
Nonprofits are almost always borne from good ideas from great people, and they almost always evolve organically from the availability of resources and network connections of different leaders involved. They rarely plan first, which often leads to chaotic work plans and disjointed program foci.
Fundraising forces nonprofits to take a step back and think about how they are going to accomplish their projects, with what resources, and in what time frames. Whether it be by filling out an onerous grant application or by an investor or donor prospect asking you for your five-year plan, almost always organizations will need to have some sort of planning in place to ask for support and be successful in attaining it.
2. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits See Where They Are Vulnerable
In the process of planning and asking the question of how they are going to accomplish a project, a nonprofit will often realize that they have gaps in resources toward meeting their goals. Identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in organizational structure is a critical step in strengthening your organization!
Also read: 5 Must-Read Books for Fundraisers
3. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Work as Teams and Align Goals
Often, nonprofit staff and volunteers are disjointed by project areas. Fundraising acts as a glue for different project areas, unifying the team and its different project goals into one holistic mission. A nonprofit will be stronger if its different components are brought together under a solid mission base.
4. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Prioritize Projects
Prioritizing where to allocate precious resources is a constant struggle for nonprofit managers. Who wants to pick between two different programs that both help hungry children or some other disadvantaged community member? Prioritizing is a must however, and the process of fundraising gives nonprofit managers an objective outlet to pick the most relevant projects to that holistic mission base they identified while aligning goals and planning.
5. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Branch out and Broadcast
To be eligible for grants, and sponsorships especially, nonprofits need to prove they are reaching as many people as possible. Fundraising is often the excuse to renovate a website, create a newsletter, or design a social media strategy. That exposure benefits your nonprofit tremendously beyond fundraising by increasing your presence in your target community!
6. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Partner
To be more attractive to grantmakers and sponsors, and more and more often as a requirement to be eligible for funding, nonprofits need to have diverse board members from all corners of the community and active partnerships with other like-minded organizations. Quite often, outreach and partnering is the first step in a good development plan as a result, and enacting that step leads to quality relationships your nonprofit wouldn’t have otherwise.
7. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Work to Alleviate the Greatest Community Needs
Funding, especially large community foundation funding, is often earmarked for the neediest people or for addressing the worst problems in the community. To be eligible, nonprofits are compelled to match their mission and agenda with helping those people and problems. Sometimes this step can be a reality check for your nonprofit to aim to focus on what is most important for your target population; this is a good thing!
8. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Evaluate
The strongest grant proposals have fantastic evaluation plans, and nearly every grantor asks grantees for some sort of report that requires program evaluation. Most nonprofits would probably forget evaluation all together if it weren’t for this level of accountability – if it weren’t for fundraising. Benefits to evaluating include saving resources, fixing program elements and work plans that aren’t working, and just knowing your impact, which in turn helps you fundraise.
9. Fundraising Makes Nonprofits Sustainable
If a nonprofit does not fundraise, it is vulnerable to its source of funding ending. Any fixed source could end. Whether it be a government line item allocation, an endowment, a multi-year grant, or revenues from sales or rentals, the reality is that nothing is permanent in the nonprofit world and the source can disappear very quickly. A funding mix of revenues, grants, gifts, and sponsorships is the best way to ensure sustainability for your cause.
Fundraising is so much more than raising funds. If done right, fundraising is developing your organization into a high functioning, networked, sustainable, impactful force for community good!