I often “read” in the car, on a run, or sitting in an airport, thanks to audiobooks. No matter the topic of the book, I usually find some wisdom that applies to my work or personal life. Recently I was listening to nonprofit leader Robert Woodson, founder of The Woodson Center, in his book Lessons from the Least of These. He shares some key principles he’s learned in his over 40 years of service. Among them are transparency, resilience, and innovation.
We face an uncertain future – economically, socially and politically. At the same time, we will soon be in the most critical fundraising time of the year: the fourth quarter. I believe the lessons from Mr. Woodson’s book can be aptly applied to this important time for nonprofits.
Nonprofit work is hard … and it’s worth it. Whether it’s been 4 days or 40 years, nonprofit leaders face challenges. Determination is important.
Here are four ideas I encourage for-impact leaders to consider in preparation for donor meetings and upcoming asks this fall.
1. Control what you can.
Don’t borrow trouble. Inflation is high, and there are concerns of a possible recession. Stay focused on articulating the good your nonprofit does, the impact it has, and the lives it touches. Articulate the rising costs to achieve the same impact. Be transparent about increased costs related to gas, rent, wages, and other costs of doing business. Make a rational case for a gift.
2. Consistency is key.
Don’t back down from communication or asking. When talking with major donors, seek to understand how their business may be impacted by a shifting economy, but don’t shy away from meetings, phone calls, and texts. Invite them to invest in meaningful work. Stay connected. Be resilient.
3. Be a resource for your donors.
Change the conversation. Share innovative strategies for generosity. Give perspective on what’s happening in the cause overall, the effectiveness of the organization’s work, and different charitable giving tools. This may not be the harvest season, but it can be a time for sowing into the relationship. Position yourself as a specialist for your donor by helping them think differently about generosity.
Pray for guidance, discernment, and provision. God will provide for His work. Asking is a spiritual journey for both the asker and the giver. As Rick Dunham says in his book If God Will Provide, Why Do We Have To Ask For Money?, “God expects His people to give to His Kingdom work, and He expects leaders to challenge and direct them where to give.”
As year-end plans are made, ensure you are transparent, resilient, and innovative. This is important work in a critical time. God will provide.