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Hard Issues Facing Nonprofits
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Hard Issues Facing Nonprofits

What are the top issues facing you as a nonprofit leader? What pressures seem to continue to erupt and reek havoc on your organization, and where in the world can you turn for help?

Well, a great deal of chatter I’m hearing once the nonprofit gets past the survival mode, deals with the ever present fundraising question. Not only are folks asking, How do you do it, also, the question seems to be, How can we expand the organization’s current base of funding i.e. get more donors, more grants…more, more, more?

Part of the problem comes because I believe in many cases nonprofits are asking wrong questions as well as not doing something differently when they don’t get the results they need to get.

Instead in many cases nonprofits continue to do the same fundraisers because that is what they have always done or they don’t try different things because they don’t want to make the effort or honestly they can’t do it because they don’t have the time, staff or ability to do things differently. While sometimes that might be true and other times it is just not the case and folks are stuck in a rut!

Most nonprofits, especially the smaller ones, spend less time on maintaining current donors than trying to attract new ones. Then nonprofits quickly find themselves in the “revolving donor door syndrome.” Meaning, they finally attract a new set of donors that make the beginning gift and maybe even another but then that person becomes less interested and feels like their gift or gifts don’t really count for much and eventually the person moves on to other causes and stops giving all together and sometimes that is forever.

If by chance your nonprofit does have in place a donor retention program or some effort to make sure you stay connected with donors then next the question that is asked is: How do we get more money from the folks already giving to us? While this might not be an “all I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten” moment, Ask yourself this hard but pointed question please, that I’m sure no one has ever asked you before!

Do you as a nonprofit really deserve more money? What are you doing differently than you did when you got the first contribution to deserve more of the donor’s money?

Illustration: You know how frustrated you get going to the gas pumps and you see the price of gas up again? You say to yourself, I can’t believe that I’m having to pay this much. In your mind you’re thinking: I can’t get better gas mileage than I’m getting now but I still need to continue to drive to work and get groceries etc. You then say, I’m stuck and have to pay it but I’m not happy about it because I’m getting less for my dollar than what I got when the gas prices was cheaper. THAT’S WRONG!

So the question to you as a nonprofit is this: What are you doing more as a nonprofit to deserve more money? The bottom line is this: Are you giving your donor less than he or she deserves? If you want more, you have to earn it.

I think nonprofits quickly breeze by the hard fact that people don’t have to give! We all know this in our mind, and it seems silly for some that I may have mentioned this, but how many nonprofits assume that just because they are filling up space, that someone out there should give money to them? The nonprofit itself may get into an entitlement mode mentality because the organization would raise the flag that says: We are doing good…we are helping people and that is all the reason we need and we “deserve” to get your money.

While that might have worked with the past generation, I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t work like that anymore!

Anyone who thinks that getting a tax deduction is a large factor for why people give I think are sadly mistaken. Likewise, these end of the year appeal letters, acting as if the nonprofit is doing you some huge favor because they are going to give you a tax deduction, this is just plain ridiculous.

It should be very obvious that the nonprofit sector is quickly evolving! Now, as well as in the future, nonprofits will continue to have to adhere to higher business standards as well as be more transparent and accountable to their donors.

Nonprofits who want to succeed have to go beyond just having their hand out!

Are you ready?

DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.