traditional approaches fall short of needed outcomes

Every grantmaker wants to see its grantees succeed in raising the resources required to create impact and sustain the work we fund.  Our inclination is to find a way to help, but in the final analysis, the existing solutions often fall short of the transformations envisioned.    Those of us in the Jumpstart Collective Impact Initiative understand:

 

Fundraising needs to be a central leadership priority, not an administrative task.

The revenue model for nonprofit organizations is eroding as the values and priorities that underpinned it have shifted. Public funding at federal, state, and local levels is declining and overall philanthropic and corporate funding is not growing at pace.  The revenue model that once sustained many organizations has forever changed and 77% of nonprofits find themselves flat-footed and unable to easily balance their budgets.

While the sector has seen general increases in giving, nationally, that growth does not reach the more than one million nonprofits with operating budgets under $3 million.  For them, acquiring donors is expensive and time consuming, especially absent the budget, staff, or tools to engage and easily retain them.

 

Nonprofits don’t have or can’t afford the fundraising help & expertise they need.

The skills needed for effective nonprofit leadership today are complex and numerous. While access to workshops, conferences, and publications has grown significantly since the Great Recession of 2008, referring, let alone funding, grantees to access those resources has not yet proven effective. We think that’s the wrong approach. 

While many grantees have hired a full-time fundraising professional, that individual often has little direct experience and reports to an executive director that may also have limited fundraising experience.  As a result, executives are quickly frustrated that their investment is not immediately paying off and consequently, that new fundraiser leaves within thirteen months – and the cycle of fundraising despair continues. 

 

Being tax-exempt does not mean grantees can be technology-exempt.

In a time where social media, text messages, and email are the most prevalent ways people communicate, not just among Millennials, nonprofits and can no longer rely on a well-meaning direct mail appeal to effectively sustain, let alone expand, programs.   Instead, nonprofits must consistently and credibly engage their donors, volunteers, and communities – and personalize the experience in a way that creates lasting relationships with donors based upon programmatic impact, not financial need.

Existing and will-be donors expect nonprofits to be technologically literate, responsive to their personal interests, and constantly generating fresh content, despite time and budget constraints.  This expectation creates a challenge for a grantee that is not structured to allow for rapid innovation, nor equipped to personalize donor experiences in ways that Google, Amazon, & Netflix have now conditioned consumers to expect.