One of my core beliefs is that when you have sustainable funding, fundraising is easier. I believe this because I have been in a nonprofit that was sustainable. We had to be careful what we asked for because we received over and above every time we asked. Donors were the lifeblood and we simply didn’t struggle. Don’t get me wrong, times did get tough every so often. But there wasn’t a threat of closure.
What Does Sustainable Funding Mean?
Sustainable funding is a holistic approach to fundraising that moves beyond non-sustainable activities. These activities can be securing grants or tapping “rich people” before you are ready for those strategies. Sustainable fundraising are activities and strategies we used to secure sustainable funds. This is how we build a sustainable non-profit.
What is a Sustainable Nonprofit?
A sustainable nonprofit is one that is able to support itself over the long-term. It perpetuates its ability to fulfill its mission by having enough resources to cover its cost and invest in its own infrastructure.
Four Principles of Sustainable Fundraising
In fundraising, there are four principles of sustainability that nonprofits who want to perpetuate their mission follow. They are listed below.
Principle 1- Develop Systems:
We develop systems to help us bring consistency, focus, and intentionality to our fundraising. Systems come in the form of routines, templates, checklists, and written procedures.
Principle 2- Measure Outcomes:
We measure outcomes to make sure we are using our resources wisely and to be able to communicate impacts in our communities effectively. Principle 2 will also help us with Principle 3.
Principle 3- Adaptability:
Change is a natural part of the world we live in. Some years find economic downturns, recessions, and recently a pandemic. Some years find funding booms. Our job as fundraisers is to adjust to the changing climate as quickly as possible so the organization as a whole can adjust and continue covering costs and investing in infrastructure. Without Principle 2 and the measurement of outcomes, we don’t know what to adjust or in what direction to adjust.
Principle 4- Demonstrating Rational Growth:
Make sure our fundraising efforts are growing at a pace that our resources, infrastructure, and professional fundraising skills can keep up with and maintain. Many nonprofits want to grow so fast that their resources, infrastructure, and professional fundraising skills of those involved can’t keep up. This means we can’t cover costs or put in the necessary infrastructure. Planning growth in our fundraising along with the organization will help growth happen at a maintainable and stable rate.
Everything I teach from the Fundraising Success Path to the Fundraising Framework and the Fundraising Strategy Hierarchy is rooted in sustainable funding. For the next steps to sustainable funding, join the free Nonprofit Fundraising University to learn more about sustainable fundraising.