It would seem that there’s nothing but bad news these days.
We’re constantly given the latest news on Swine flu deaths, how terrible the economy is, the state of education and health care in our country … yada yada yada.
And the nonprofit world is no different. We hear from the Foundation Center that foundations will reduce their giving this year. AFP lost over 1500 attendees to their annual conference over last year and just laid off six staffers. Foundations have closed their doors in the wake of the Madoff scandal and community organizations are laying off staff and reducing operations right and left.
I well recall my first job in development.
I had arrived fresh from the rarified world of private foundations to spearhead development for a smaller (annual budget $3 million) regional nonprofit.
After a week spent delving into files and questioning former and current staff, it came to light that nothing had been done by way of development for going on five years. The database was non-existent. Only one grant proposal – for a recurring state grant sponsored by our local representative, had been written in that time. The individual campaign was in utter disarray – even worse, donors were angry. Key community contacts had lapsed.
I remember calling my best friend in a panic, terrified that I, alone, would not be able to handle what needed to be done to create a thriving development department.
Welcome to the world of nonprofit fundraising.
After my friend calmed me down and reassured me that, yes, I had what it took, I buckled down.
I was reading a Tony Robbins book at the time and I recall a particular quote leaping out at me:
“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears”
Rather than focusing on everything that had gone wrong in the past five years, I began focusing on what was right.
Within twelve short months, working with my organization, we successfully:
- Raised over $155,000 in foundation funding
- Re-established community contacts and founded the first nonprofit roundtable at our local Chamber of Commerce
- Re-designed the annual campaign, drawing in local businesses and major donors and resulting in a 23% increase in dollars raised
- Ran two successful community events
How did we create such a turn-around? By adopting an organized, thoughtful development plan and focusing on what was positive – the organization, our volunteers and the community itself – rather than negatives.
Am I advising you to become an ostrich? Not at all. I’m merely advising you to focus on your positives – your organization, your community, your volunteers, your donors.
Things change, the economy will rebound. Don’t add to your challenges by buying into fear.