Sunday, July 14, 2013

It may not be exciting, but it's essential!

I have worked with many nonprofits that have one or two really exciting programs and a plethora of important but not particularly energizing initiatives. The problem often is that it is fairly easy to raise donations for the sexy program but far more difficult to create interest in operational or foundational needs.

Often too, the program that generates all that interest may have a more modest budget and can be fully funded far too quickly. What to do then? How can you turn the more bland, cream-of-wheat initiatives into philanthropy magnets? Well, maybe you can't. Some aspects of your operations may never be attractive to Joe and Jennifer Bigbucks. But what if you can create a compelling "umbrella" that all that critically important but lackluster activity in need of financial support can fit under? 

Let's take an animal welfare organization as an example. A tremendous amount of money is spent on maintenance - food, heat, a/c, rent or mortgage, gas for vehicles, salaries, etc. A relatively smaller amount of money is spent on the more moving adoption services. What if you positioned all the operational activities as being handmaids of adoption. What if you profiled the individuals that you never hear about that utilize all those mundane duties and show how they are critically important to getting those animals adopted. The case and ask includes the broader actions and costs but they are shown to be indissolubly linked to that persuasive niche element. The mundane is thereby raised to a much higher and more exhilarating level. You keep the entire ship afloat and you ensure that the "gripping" program has an organization to support it.