Money isn’t the answer when it comes to fundraising

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Money is a lagging indicator.

Say what?!

I see a lot of hand-wringing when it comes to fundraising. It’s easy to get stuck thinking that money is the answer—it’s not. Money follows as a result of doing a lot of other things right. Your best chance for success comes when you connect your organizational strategy with your fundraising. They work hand-in-glove.

All too often, however, strategy gets left behind in favor of action—borne out of a sense of both urgency and scarcity.

This is especially true as we reconstruct our work into something better as a result of the pandemic. We can’t simply recreate the “old normal.” Now is the time to reimagine your organization starting at the roots and redesign your approach based on the lessons learned over the past year.

Recently, we worked with an organization committed to shifting its fundraising work from transactional to transformational. Inspired by Karla Raines’ new book Differentiated, in which she elevates the customer mindset as a key building block for strategy—we began at the root to help leadership reconstruct how the organization thinks about itself in relation to those it seeks to serve.

Resource Recommendations

Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas

My go-to resource for this kind of reconstruction work is Strategyzer’s business model canvas. Facilitated effectively, the 9-segment framework gives organizations a powerful strategic blueprint that does three things:

  1. Generates exquisite clarity for leadership to both articulate and embrace the organization’s value proposition and define how to deliver that value to the people it serves
  2. Serves as a guide for things yet to come; and
  3. Works as a great storage device for decisions already made

With the blueprint in hand, you can intentionally set a fundraising game plan that connects your mission to your value to your impact.

Name and Claim Your Funding Model

My second go-to resource for activating a more strategic and predictable approach to fundraising is Bridgespan Group’s 10 Funding Models. We use this framework over and over again to help organizations design and implement fundraising that is more probable, integrated, and effective into the way the organization fuels its work.

At the end of the day, people, foundations, businesses, and governments invest in your work because of the difference you make, not because of your fundraising program. Set your strategy, lead with impact and value, and redesign your fundraising to connect the community’s investment in your work. When you do, the money will follow.

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Hey there, I'm Kimberley

Welcome! I believe our social sector organizations are at the forefront of making here better. With more than 33 years of diversified fundraising and nonprofit experience, I partner with courageous organizations committed to building clarity and confidence. Let’s connect and chart your nonprofit’s path to thriving. 

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