“The change has already happened – now we are in the transition.”
Fundraising during a transition means you must ask meaningful questions of your organization, its mission, work, and the community you serve. Whether it is COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, or rising unemployment, you cannot continue with “business as usual.” The first step to finding your nonprofit’s “new normal” is to update your fundraising case for support, or business brief. To do this, you must ask deep questions. This is not a time for quick and easy answers. As you update your case you will find out what you need to do to move your organization forward through this time of transition.
Here are two organization-wide questions you need to ask so your nonprofit is best positioned to operate, thrive, and raise funds.
Are we still relevant? Is our case for support still relevant? You may not think about your “case” on a regular basis, but your case is everything your organization does and doesn’t do, and how you communicate what you are all about. It is your “business brief,” your talking points, your budget, programs, impact, board and more all rolled into one. Your “case” is who you are. As such you have to think about your relevancy. Here are a few questions to help get the deep conversation started. Has our relevancy increased or decreased? Do we have the capacity and infrastructure to respond to our community? Can we continue with business as usual, or do we need to change how we operate? What needs to be different in the near future and longer term? On top of this, you need define your change process: how will we change, who will we invite into the process, how will we engage the diversity of our constituents? Finally, you must ask – and answer – how will we be transparent, accountable, and build open lines of communication?
What do we know about our donors’ and funders’ priorities and how they are responding to COVID-19, the movement for Black Lives, and changes in our economy? You have to pick up the phone and personally talk to the individuals, professionals, and volunteers you rely on to secure funding for your work. Ask them what they are experiencing, what they plan on doing that continues their prior giving, and what they want to do differently. Share your plans for the future and ask about where your organization fits into their plans. As you plan for change you need to bring your supporters along with you. And, you will need to open the door and welcome in new donors and funders.
You need to ask questions so you can determine how to go forward with expansion, reduced services, new partnerships, or perhaps closing your doors. We are in a time of transition and by asking questions your nonprofit can be in a proactive position instead of being caught in a crisis. As always, we believe you are up to the demands of the day.
[Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.]