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Nonprofit Bottom Fishing
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Nonprofit Bottom Fishing

Nonprofits spend an enormous amount of time and energy focused on seeking grants from foundations. I am not opposed to nonprofits finding funding where they can the simple facts remains:

Approximately 75% of all charitable giving comes from individuals and an additional 8% comes from planned gifts. Foundations account for approximately 12% of charitable giving and corporate contributions represent only 5%.

So are nonprofits in fact spending more time than necessary i.e. bottom fishing for contributions that are less frequent and harder to come by than actually spending more time focusing on where the money really comes from?

As a husband of over 20 years there is a phrase my wife says and continues to say as we build our relationship and that is spending “quality time” together!

The only real way nonprofits can grow their donor support is through lots of hard work, time, and effort. The keyword however is “time.”

You can choose to spend your time writing all the grants you want, but as most grant writers will confess the vast majority of grants are short term monies for a specific program or time period. Plain and simple, if your nonprofit lives by the grant, it will die when the grant runs out. By focusing so intently on getting grants nonprofits unfortunately have a tendency to slowly lose their identity, bending to mold and shape itself to fit what the foundation decides to fund.

Likewise, you can choose to spend your time differently.

Taking the example of a personal relationship for a moment I would challenge you to ask yourself this question. What makes you as an individual more likely to want to spend time with someone? Obviously, there has to be a common interest for the connection to work. You need to “get to know” what the other person likes or dislikes. We have all heard the cliché: Understanding what makes a person tick.

So, as a nonprofit what common interest do you have with your donor? How well do you know what they like or dislike about your program? Have you taken the time to ask or get to know them and what makes your donor tick? What are their motivations?

The only way you find out these answers is to spend time asking questions. If nonprofits spend more time asking open ended questions to their donors and really hearing what the donor is saying then I honestly believe less time would be needed for fundraising.

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.