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Nonprofit Organizations; Stop Asking for Money and Start Sharing a Vision

Over and over I get calls from frustrated nonprofits because they’re struggling financially or not getting on the radar of potential supporters. Sometimes they’re uncomfortable asking for financial support, but in most cases, they’re not really afraid to ask. The problem is, they’re asking for money, not sharing a vision. Look at your media presentations, videos, live events, print materials, and in-person contacts. What do they say? What story are they telling?  It’s not enough just to show the great work you’re doing and then ask for money. Perhaps more important, it’s also not just about information. You can bury people in numbers, statistics, and graphs, and still not inspire them to open their wallets.

The secret is sharing a vision that people want to support. Connecting with potential supporters means making them feel part of the vision, and clearly showing them what role they can play. “What’s in it for me?” may sound selfish, but the truth is, that’s exactly what they’re thinking. They need to see themselves in the picture.

Stop just spouting statistics about the world’s problems and what you’re doing and then asking for donations.

Start sharing an inspiring and compelling vision about the reason what you’re doing matters, and people will embrace it.

Have you experienced the difference I’m talking about in your organization, or with nonprofits that you support?

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  1. Probably true of great for-profits as well. When folks buy an Apple product aren’t they buying the story (and community) as much as the product?

  2. I’ve often thought charities need to be less sad in their marketing. Maybe sounds shallow but I think it just depresses people and makes them feel hopeless. They should share their successes and the real change that they are effecting. that’s much more inspiring than sad pictures of people suffering.

    1. There’s certainly the feeling that negative emotions will move an audience to give, and there is much truth to that.  But that’s not enough.  No matter how bad things are, for people to give they need to know you have a solution – a solution that inspires and excites them.

      1. People want to be associated with success and so an org. must project and have info that says they are a success.  If that’s the same as Vision, i agree.

    1. Too much of anything isn’t necessarily good. It’s true that there are plenty of “visionary” leaders who are simply incompetent.  But the challenge I”m seeing far more is the inability to inspire donors to the possibilities their giving can make happen.

  3. I can totally relate to this perspective change! Out of inexperience I used to share the problem. That stopped when I got an email from someone on the outside looking in at my non-profit they we’re blunt and honest about how I was sharing the message of my non-profit at first it floored me and I was tempted to get my back up about it “How could they say that!” instead I changed how we shared our message and started sharing a vision and the hope that I believed my non-profit had to offer.  It changed everything instantly. We’ve still got a way to go. But I appreciated what they said, and it’s changed everything about how we present ourselves.

  4. I agree 100%. Recently I have been let in on the financial situation of our organization and my head was focused on the numbers. I could feel it leaking into my visits with our friends and supporters. It was actually quite shocking to see and feel their reaction lacking empathy. Then, I would get inspired about something that God had done through the ministry, tell that and BOOM instant traction. Charitable giving is all about the heart.  Great piece. What I needed to hear today. Thanks!

    1. Just to ad to your line of thought. Fact is we have been being programmed for decades to have a focus on money, so that now its just 2nd nature. Problem is, this has been the very intentional programing of the mego rich; To have EVERYONE pivot around money, ie. buy, buy, buy. Last yr I was at a point in my life when I thought my time had come. I’d suffered for decades with a health condition and started having REALLY profound insights. They would just come in a flash. I wasnt thinking of anything, they would just pop up and so thoroughly not just a sentence or image, it was an explanation and the most profound one was that the whole ‘normal’ thinking re; money was in fact the major tool of the darkness. We see less and less community thinking or even just giving truely from the heart with no focus on self or ones ‘goodness’. The domain of the dark is; ME, MINE AND MONEY. It would be great to see an org, focused on using their energy and hearts over money like what existed in the early days of social action.

  5. I
    believe their needs to be balance.  The
    vision is very important, but so are the needed resources.  Without passionate vision the ask can sound
    like you are apologizing or embarrassed for your need. But…………if you
    don’t express the need for support, while you are sharing the vision with enthusiasm,
    the resources will not be there to carry out the vision.

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