November, 2010A few months ago I argued that nonprofits need to stop fundraising and start financing for social impact. As I wrote:
Fundraising in its current form just doesn’t work anymore. Indeed, traditional fundraising is holding the sector back by keeping nonprofits in the starvation cycle of trying to do more and more with less and less. Really, what the sector needs is a financing strategy, not a fundraising strategy. By that I mean that nonprofits have to break out of the narrow view that traditional FUNDRAISING (individual donor appeals, events, foundation grants) will completely fund all of their activities. Instead, nonprofits must work to create a broader approach to securing the overall FINANCING necessary to create social change.
The idea is that nonprofits can no longer work towards social impact on one side and throw a gala event (or send out a direct mail appeal or write a grant) on the other side and think that this disjointed, haphazard way of funding their work is sustainable. To truly achieve social impact, nonprofits need to take a huge step back and figure out how to employ all of the financial tools available to them in an effective, integrated way. This is how you finance, rather than fundraise for, social impact.
Over the next few months, in an occasional series titled Financing Not Fundraising, I will elaborate on this argument and demonstrate what financing, as opposed to fundraising, for social impact looks like.
Today I will launch the series with the core element of the idea, which is a financial plan. In essence, a financial plan is a key element of, not separate from, a nonprofit’s strategic plan. That means that the goals of the strategic plan are created with the full knowledge of 1) what it will cost to reach those goals and 2) how the money to cover those costs will be secured.
A financial plan differs from a fundraising plan in a number of ways. A financial plan, unlike a fundraising plan:
What I am suggesting is that nonprofits stop exhausting their boards, staffs, donors, friends, and clients with a series of disjointed activities that are meant to raise money, but actually just end up making poor use of a nonprofit’s already limited resources. Instead, nonprofits need an integrated, thoughtful, strategic financing plan that makes social impact a reality.
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