When I was in college, a wise mentor gave me a little advice that has endured and proven its wisdom over time. “Don’t sweat what you believe others may be thinking of you. Most people are far too concerned with their own challenges and affairs to have much more than a passing interest in yours,” he said. Needless to say, to hear such was at once both a relief and a disappointment.
Worthy nonprofit organizations are led by well-motivated individuals with a passion to do good in the world. There’s nothing wrong with a desire to better the lot of one’s fellows. It’s when we begin to identify ourselves as part-and-parcel with the goal that the lines get blurred.
It’s easy to do. There is so much need. There is so much to be done. We’re the ones given the mission to accomplish. And yet, any worthy goal requires a healthy self-check from time to time.
Philanthropic investors—donors—provide the reality check for a nonprofit organization’s leadership. My father always told me that something is worth only what others are willing to pay for it. In a similar way, the goal and mission of a nonprofit is only as valuable as the degree to which potential investors—donors are willing to invest in it.
I stand by my oft-repeated assertion that every nonprofit organization can achieve a sustainable, scalable fundraising revenue stream. Period. The challenge is to get over ourselves and move beyond what we think is “important”, reaching out to those who would join us, investing in our vision.
Principle 1 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Donors are the Drivers™. Philanthropic investors don’t want to navigate, but they would dearly love to experience the thrill of being a co-pilot. Let them.