When a donation is not for fundraising and programs

Some time ago I spoke to a non-profit executive with good news. She was talking to a powerful person in the society and he asked her a simple question.

“If you can do one thing to expand the work you do in society, what is it?”

Her immediate response was, “Invest to raise funds to sustain our income.”

The way the executive explained it, she did not quickly leave those words, she was upset because she thought a better answer would be to hire a program officer or engage in some other activity that directly affects the program work of the organization.


A few days passed without another word from the powerful man. The next week, the nonprofit executive received a call that he was again the community leader. He wanted to follow up on his question by asking how much money she was investing in fundraising. The executive has always been at the forefront of her sport, and she quickly responded that with a gift of $ 200,000 she would be able to recruit additional staff and develop a comprehensive fundraising program that would help grow and enhance her charity. . Broad and sustainable impact.

The community influencer thanked her and then spoke politely with her about her non-profit good work. After the executive hung up the phone – and made an appointment to meet with him to talk more about the organization – she left to do a little research. She knew that Mr. was not a philanthropist or supporter of the charity, but she felt that he had an interest in the organization and its mission.


The great thing about working with people is that you never know when they might surprise you. When the executive came to the meeting, the member of the powerful community went straight for it. He offered her $ 150,000 to invest in her development team and then asked her to use the gift as a challenge to other donors to raise an additional $ 50,000 to the $ 200,000 she needed.

She was especially pleased with the generosity of someone who was not generous to the organization. In their conversation, he said that his son was addicted and wanted to “save” his son, but he also realized that it would be important if he could help other parents in such a difficult situation.

Why not fundraising and programs

The donor explained that it was an unexpected response when the executive told him that if she had extra funds it would be invested to raise funds. Also, it makes sense from a business perspective, he said. As a businessman and philanthropist in the community, he realized that hospitals, universities, and cultural organizations made it a point to invest in their operations, including marketing and fundraising. He knew it was essential for small non-profit organizations to follow that path, as it would help create revenue streams for donors who would support the continued work of organizations within the community.

As he explained it, there is a direct link between increasing spending on marketing and fundraising and final funding for programs. So, the way he saw it, even though he was not directly gifted to the program, the “investment” he was making would help the organization get and develop other donors, thereby helping to push money into program work.

Lucky rest

Although many non-profit organizations have not had the good fortune and fortune of the organization I am writing about today to get a modern donor to direct a fundraiser, the reality is that small community organizations and donors have, in fact, understood what large organizations have known for a long time. A charity must have an investment in its corporate capacity, especially marketing and fundraising.

There are ways you can start digging to give your supporters more money for your annual fund or directly for capacity building.

  1. Let your supporters know how you spend your non-programming funds. Be transparent.
  2. Develop a plan to help your champions, especially your board members, understand why your organization needs investment in the organization’s infrastructure, especially marketing and fundraising.
  3. Do your research on capacity building and non-profit sustainability and understand industry benchmarks.

Finally, if you are getting a push from board members or are not shocked enough, think about recruiting board members and champions for your organization who understand the relationship between fundraising and the sustainability of your organization. Keep this as a regular topic of conversation at your board meetings and with influential donors. Also, if you find an opportunity to attract money that goes directly to building your marketing and fundraising efforts, go out and create a strategy to solicit it.

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