5 Leadership Lessons from Successful Nonprofit Fundraising

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The biggest ever anti-poverty movement

Fundraising is the lifeblood of many Nonprofit Organizations. But soliciting philanthropic gifts is no simple job. It is sometimes boring, monotonous, a drudgery. How do some Nonprofit Organizations succeed? Speaking during the 21st Annual Nonprofit Conference on Sustainability Strategies in Arizona, Torrie Taj and Anne C. White shared top ten things all Nonprofit managers should know about fundraising.

Here I will look at the top five things. Coming from a public sector. I will look at how the five lessons can be applied in the public sector and leadership in general.

1. Know where the $$ comes from.
The number one thing successful Nonprofit managers know is where the money to support their cause comes from. Many people think donor funds come from corporations. This is not true in the United States. It’s a myth. The reality is that 81% of philanthropic gifts come from individuals. Corporations contribute a meager 5%. As a leader you need to separate the myth from reality and answer the question “Where does the money come from?” The money here represents the most important thing you want to achieve. Is it revenue? Is it votes? Is it national building? Where does it comes from?

2. There is ALWAYS money for your cause.
Successful Nonprofit fundraisers are always optimistic. They are always looking for money because they believe that there is ALWAYS money somewhere to support their cause. And the truth is that there is ALWAYS money for fundraisers just as there is ALWAYS support for your leadership cause too. If you need more tax revenue, there are taxpayers ready to pay their taxes. If you need votes, there are always people ready to vote for you. So, be insatiably curious to find out who is there to support you. Being curious helps you to connect with people who can work with you and for you, your interest to communicate respect and openness. As a leader it is important to remember that people are there to follow you. They are waiting for you to lead.

3. Know your story
Successful nonprofit managers know that the number one question donors ask is “Why should I give you my money?” Fundraisers know their elevator pitch and can articulate why the funds are needed, what will happen to the funding and the contribution the funds will make. Public-sector leaders must answer similar questions, “What is the overall reason I should support you?; what are you going to do with my support; and what contribution will my support make?” Leaders must be able to connect the dots created by these questions and articulate their story better than anyone else.

4. Engage others in your mission
Successful Nonprofit managers know that “One head cannot carry a roof“. You need the collaboration and assistance of others to succeed. Successful fundraisers engage board members, donors, staff, volunteers and the community. Public-sector leaders must engage their stakeholders too. Engagement and consultation depersonalize the cause. The importance of engagement is that leadership focus on establishing traditions that can be passed on to generations rather than seeking immediate personal glorification. Successful leaders engage others and strive to leave a legacy.

5. Focus on your current donors
Nonprofit managers know that current donors are more important than prospective donors. While it is important to hunt for new donors for growth, Nonprofit managers know that it is the current donors that bring the best return on investments. Nonprofit leaders treat their donors well. Public sector leaders too must treat their followers well. Understanding what inspires happiness in those who support your leadership is critically important. As a leader, you must continuously search for the needs and interests of your followers and learn to better serve them.


Edited by Domenico Nicosia

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