Ignore Almost Everyone

When you’re seeking to enlist support—time, money, in-kinds—for your charitable organization, what’s your first impulse?

The conventional wisdom says to reach out to as many as possible.  The logic being that by contacting many, you’ll identify those who will support you.  This approach yields about 1-2% of your original group—if you’re lucky.  They’ll give small first-time gifts.  There’s absolutely no chance you’ll recover the costs of your outreach.  And—the chances those 1-2% will give again are less than one in three.

Sounds exhausting and futile.  And it is.  And yet, this routine persists as the de facto fundraising mode of way too many nonprofits.

If you’re a small nonprofit with limited resources, this approach is particularly costly. You need to make every dollar you spend on fundraising really count.

There is another way.  Principle 5 of The Eight Principles®:  Work From the Inside Out™.

Start by identifying the dozen or so folks who really believe in what you’re trying to accomplish.  They’re probably known to you, already. Enlist their support—time, money, in-kinds.

These true believers may encourage another 150 to join in.

And this 150, will bring their own ideas and resources.  They’ll introduce you to even more people who will both clarify and strengthen what you’re attempting to accomplish as well as bring their own resources.

It’s step by step.  Piece by piece.

Your “entry” gifts are never entry level.  Those who make these gifts aren’t making a once-and-done contribution.  They’re believers.  They’ve become members of your tribe.

When you do it this way, you build a solid structure on a solid foundation.  Your base support remains solid even as your fundraising total climbs.  And climbs.

There’s a caveat, however.

Because you’re specific and directed, you must be willing to ignore almost everyone.  And that’s not bad, because they’d never be your investors, anyway.

Think about raising four or five times what you’re currently raising at a fraction of what you’re currently spending in time, money, and in-kinds. 

Sounds pretty good to me. Find out how to do this now.

Larry C. Johnson is the Founder of The Eight Principles and the author of the award-winning book, The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising.