By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
With funding opportunities harder to secure these days, many nonprofits are seeking new ways to attract and retain major donors. However, not all fundraising strategies are created equal as explained by Grant Jones, Executive Director of The Center for African American Health, at JVA’s recent Executive Director Academy expert panel (also known as the “Genius Bar”).
“The danger is drifting from your mission during tough economic times in order to survive,” says Jones. Some nonprofits are tempted to change or expand services at the request of major donors, even when those services fall outside the organization’s mission. This is a slippery slope that could lead to nonprofits offering services they are not the most qualified to give. By stretching your organization too thin, you are harming your chances of maintaining donors, says a recent article on LinkedIn:
When a not-for-profit becomes incoherent, its attention is distracted from the thing it needs to do most: Investing time, energy and funds to build critical capabilities to accomplish its strategic purpose. Worse still, more investment in time and cost goes toward these supposedly revenue-generating programs, thus actually hurting the bottom line and breeding more fundraising pressure and more incoherence.
Another member of the panel, Executive Director of Downtown Aurora Visual ArtsSusan Jensen, admits to facing similar pressure: “You have to enjoy the chase or get out of the business. We had a chance to change to align with funders, but it wasn’t us, we decided not to. We [as executive directors] are capable of being leaders.” She charges executive directors with leading the organization to become the best at fulfilling its mission, rather than taking on more responsibility to get more money.
So the next time your organization considers changing its mission or services in an effort to chase big-time funding, consider whether or not the strategy is a sustainable business plan that your nonprofit is ready to take on.