I started my blog because I wanted to record (and dissect) some of the things I heard in the course of my day. I quickly deviated from that path with thoughts about lots of other things, but now I’m back to my original idea.
I heard this the other day: “Let’s not raise too much money!” Really? What’s that supposed to mean? I guess it’s possible, if you’re Harvard, to have too much money. After all, a $36.4 billion endowment can appear to be excessive to some people.
On the other side of the coin are the millions of U.S. nonprofits (3/4 with budgets of less than $1 million) striving every day to provide needed programs and services, frequently with inadequate resources.
70% of Americans believe that charities
waste money, according to a NYU survey.
The dilemma is, donors have unrealistically low expectations about what it costs to meet your mission. And because nonprofits avoid having that conversation, donors can’t find a reason to invest to 1) strengthen program delivery systems, 2) build organizational infrastructure, 3) acquire cutting edge computer systems, 4) fund positions and training for board and staff, and more. Even when donors are willing, nonprofits are afraid to ask for that type of support.
It’s not “program-my” enough.
Nonprofits need to begin demonstrating that the impact of their programs and services is what counts, not low overhead, and that achieving impact requires nonprofits to have strong cores. This includes being able to:
· Effectively measure progress and outcomes of your programs and services
· Conduct internal assessments that identify capacity challenges and help set capacity building goals
· Really, engage in anything that drives your nonprofit to improve the way you do things, so that you are more effective and more accountable to those you serve and to your investors.
So, what does all this have to do with raising too much money? A lot, actually. By avoiding the impact discussion, you are leaving a lot of money on the table (money that could be strengthening your organization by adding needed funding to your mission and your infrastructure). And you are keeping a lot of uneducated donors from making the most meaningful investments possible in your organization.