Your organization’s mission matters.  You know that.  Your staff knows that.  Your donors know that.

So… are you acting like your mission matters?  Do your fundraising activities reflect that knowledge?  Most organizations start-off with their mission front and center in their fundraising activities and appeals… but over time, too many non-profits turn to asking their board to strong-arm their colleagues, or to asking volunteers to move hundreds of candy fundraising bars or calendars.

I’m not saying that selling products to raise money is wrong, or that asking your board to raise a certain amount of money is a bad idea.  In fact, both tactics could be vital parts of your organization’s fundraising mix.  What I am saying is that once a non-profit  stops focusing it’s fundraising activities… all of it’s fundraising activities… on the organization’s mission, it becomes increasingly difficult to engage and motivate donors and prospects and keep the non-profit moving forward.

Mission-Based Fundraising is Sustainable Fundraising

Strong and vital organizations need ongoing bases of financial support: people, companies, and other non-profits that support the organization year in, year out, for multiple years.  The best way to ensure that prospects become enthusiastic and long-term donors is to make sure that one of the primary reasons donors give is because they understand and appreciate your mission.

Asking someone for a donation because they “owe you one” leads to a one-year donation.  Asking someone to give because your mission matters… and taking the time to show them why it matters… leads to long-lasting support.  Mission-based fundraising is sustainable fundraising.

How to Put Your Mission Front and Center

Any type of fundraising can be mission-based fundraising.   Personal asks, fundraising events, and letters can be mission-based.  So too can emergency appeals, bake sales, bingo nights and candy bar drives.   What is important isn’t what type of fundraising you are doing.  What is important is that you make some effort to explain your mission to each donor (or participant, or purchaser) to help them understand why their financial support is so important and makes such a difference.

For a personal, one-on-one ask, this is easy.  For an event, it means reserving a part of your program to talk about your mission.  For a bake sale, it means having signage and volunteers on hand to explain why your non-profit is having a bake sale, and who benefits from the proceeds.

Ultimately, the more mission-based your fundraising becomes, the more viable and prevailing your non-profit will be.

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Posted on 29 July 2010

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Sherry Truhlar says:

    Joe, great advice for focusing on mission. It is good to see you advise that people set aside a portion of the special event program to focus on mission. That is a critical step that is overlooked.

    I suspect part 2 of your blog would be advise to get everybody on the same page when it comes to talking about your mission. It is always a success when staff, board members and volunteers are all hitting the same points when focusing on mission.

  2. Joe Garecht says:

    Sherry, thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I always suggest a training session for staff and volunteers, at least once per year, that provides an overview of the mission, success stories from those who are directly helped, and information on how to effectively communication the organization’s mission and values to the public.


  3. David says:

    Fund raising activities isn’t that really easy. The only technique I know in order to make this activity success, you go to big companies who are open for sponsorship. These companies, most of the time, are too conscious with their status in the society.

  4. Joe Garecht says:

    David, you’re right, fundraising isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Sponsorships are good, but most non-profits should be raising over 50% of thier money from individual donors.

  5. Evan Jacobs says:

    I can only think of two groups of people who can really help in fund raising events. These are politicians who want to take advantage of the event for their upcoming candidacy and businesses to get free advertising on their new products (maybe).

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