Last year a board member from a 30-year-old nonprofit doing really cool humanitarian work in Africa, reached out to me.

He wanted to talk about how we could help them improve their fundraising through Facebook advertising.

His organization was doing really good work, but being a forward-thinking board member, he saw that they were hitting a huge wall on the fundraising part.

They were a smaller organization that was led by their founder. She was getting ready to retire and there was no real succession plan.

Most of their fundraising came through her network as well as the board’s network. Obviously this severely limited their ability to raise funds.

They had what I call an Upside-down donor base. They were heavy in major gifts, but weak in mid-tier and small gifts, which limited their capacity to grow and left them vulnerable to financial ruin.

Over the years they hired fundraisers who would try to build a network or speak at places like churches to raise support.

After their last fundraiser failed to even make their salary back in donations they knew they were in trouble.

The board member asked me to make a presentation to the board and the founder.

As we discussed how we could help them raise more money than they knew was possible from Facebook, you could see the glare come over their faces.

The glare of…” is this for real?” “do other organizations really do this?” “it’s not possible.”
To be honest, the founder just couldn’t get out of her own way.

At one point, one of the board members said, “why don’t we just hire someone to go around to churches again?”

It. was. sad.

Here was this organization who had been around for 30 years, burning through cash, and their leadership saw a lifeboat in front of them and decided to look right past it.

The problem wasn’t that they were risk averse.

Yes, they were trying to be conservative with what they saw as a risky investment.

The real problem was their inability to take action.

They had developed a philosophy of burying their heads in the sand, until they were forced to take action.

Unfortunately, they were too far gone…. not that we couldn’t raise money for them.

No, they were too far gone, mentally. Their mindset had become so scarce they were barely hanging on. There was also what I call the allusion of cash.

When you look in your bank account and see plenty of money, you think you are set. Until you realize, how many bills need to get paid. Their burn rate (the rate at how quickly they were spending money in relation to the time they had left before it was gone) was increasing.

I know that most of the people I send these emails to are NOT board members.

But, you could be just as culpable if you allow your organization to fall into this kind of thinking.

You must challenge the status quo and continue to look at how you are bringing in new donors to your organization.

It’s not enough anymore to just rely on a few wealthy donors to support your mission.

You must get greater buy-in for GREATER TRANSFORMATION.

Don’t be this organization.

Don’t die a slow, painful death.

Don’t be so ignorant that you bury your head in the sand until it’s too late.

Don’t think that you can just make a few phone calls or send some emails and everything will be ok.

The summer slump is no joke. We all experience it within the nonprofit world.

But, it doesn’t mean you pull back and stay away from investing in donor acquisition.

We have some clients who plan throughout the year and they are ramping up spend, right now. Adding thousands of dollars per month to already high budgets to make sure they keep momentum.

When you lose momentum, you have to work twice as hard to get it back.

Thanks,

Mark

PS – if you don’t want to be this organization and you’re ready to find out how many donors and dollars you’re leaving on the table, let’s hop on a call to help you design a plan that will help your organization get more donors, dollars, and engagement. http://meetme.so/marksantiago