Your fundraising should be an investment. Nothing more, nothing less. However, the way many nonprofits run their fundraising programs, they treat it like an expense.

Let me explain.

Expenses are something you can’t or don’t recoup. Also known as a sunk cost. When you pay the power bill or the rent, you are paying expenses. These are necessary costs of being in business as a nonprofit.

However, hiring staff is an investment that you expect a return on.

That return can come in many facets, not just money. Whether it’s a new program coordinator to facilitate your services, or a new HR associate to make sure all new hires are onboarded properly.

So, why do so many nonprofits treat fundraising like an expense?

Before I answer that, let’s look at the 3 most common ways your fundraising is like an expense

1. When you don’t measure your results. Every fundraising activity you do from sending emails to launching a Facebook ads campaign should be measurable. If you’re not tracking those “expenses” how do you know if your fundraising is an investment or an expense? In this case, your fundraising is an expense.

2. When you are focused on short-term results. If you are living quarter to quarter or even year to year, then your fundraising is an expense. Fundraising isn’t about hiring people to ask for money, it’s about creating a system of leverage that leverages human, digital, and offline systems to build a fundraising infrastructure that grows over time. Look at any major nonprofit and you’ll notice the only way they got that big wasn’t from a few big donors, but from investing in infrastructure that helps the nonprofit make a return on their capital.

3. When you are focused on shiny-new-objects. If your team is spending too much time on shiny-new-objects, like the latest tips, tricks, and tools that aren’t moving the fundraising needle, then its an expense. At the end of the year, if you don’t see a measurable improvement in fundraising and during the year, you’ve added more staff, an advertising budget, and more software, then your fundraising is an expense.

Unfortunately, so many nonprofits treat fundraising like an expense instead of an investment. Board’s and management alike seem to think in a zero-sum mentality. This zero-sum mentality assumes that you won’t make a financial return on your fundraising investment.

Last year I spoke to a group who was deciding whether they should invest in Facebook ads with our company or just hire another fundraiser to go door-to-door.

As I tried to keep calm and not pull the hair out of my head, I asked them what kind of return they got from the last fundraiser. They said, “We think we made at least their salary back.”

That’s it!?

You digital fundraising should ALWAYS see a positive return in the least amount of time possible. Don’t settle for anything less than a 1:1 ROI, otherwise, you might just have another expense on your hands.

Want to turn your fundraising into an investment? Let’s hop on a call and let me show you how it works: