It's Not You, It's Them

I recently sat in on a client meeting where a small group of program staff and fundraisers started talking about the "competition." They were worried that another group may have scooped them on an issue, and they were brainstorming ways for their organization to stand out. The day before, I had read a post from The Agitator about the 60:40 rule of fundraising.

So it all got me thinking about competition and the nonprofit world.

The idea is nothing new in the business community, where entrepreneurs are encouraged to find their niche and stake out a spot where they can stand out from other companies doing or selling the same thing.

I can’t argue that that’s not a valuable exercise, or that you should never compare your organization to the others out there who are raising money for the same cause you are. It is critical that you understand your place in the market and the unique services that you offer.

But for a nonprofit organization, you need to take another step. Because your fundraising is not about you and your organization. It’s ultimately not even about the people, animals, places or things that you serve.

Your fundraising is about your donor.

Once you define your organization and its niche, you need to look at how your methods, goals and mission align with your donors’ values.

How can you make your donors feel like they’re supporting the only organization out there capable as acting as their proxy in solving a problem? Sure, there are a lot of environmental/animal rescue/poverty-fighting/health organizations out there. They may even be working on the same issues you are. So why should your donor support yours? What are you doing for them?

Want to go even further? Engage in Social Fundraising. Give your donors a space to share why they support your organization. Use your Facebook page or the comment section of your blog as a space for them to tell their story of support.

It’s easy to get caught up in looking at your organization on the inside. But for a non-profit, it’s critical that you walk in your donors’ shoes. Understand what motivates and inspires them. Know why they give. And remind them every chance you get.

When you can do that, you really will have a leg up on the 'competition.'