Nonprofit Organizations; Stop Asking for Money and Start Sharing a Vision

Over and over I get calls from frustrated nonprofits because they’re struggling financially or not getting on the radar of potential supporters. Sometimes they’re uncomfortable asking for financial support, but in most cases, they’re not really afraid to ask. The problem is, they’re asking for money, not sharing a vision. Look at your media presentations, videos, live events, print materials, and in-person contacts. What do they say? What story are they telling?  It’s not enough just to show the great work you’re doing and then ask for money. Perhaps more important, it’s also not just about information. You can bury people in numbers, statistics, and graphs, and still not inspire them to open their wallets.

The secret is sharing a vision that people want to support. Connecting with potential supporters means making them feel part of the vision, and clearly showing them what role they can play. “What’s in it for me?” may sound selfish, but the truth is, that’s exactly what they’re thinking. They need to see themselves in the picture.

Stop just spouting statistics about the world’s problems and what you’re doing and then asking for donations.

Start sharing an inspiring and compelling vision about the reason what you’re doing matters, and people will embrace it.

Have you experienced the difference I’m talking about in your organization, or with nonprofits that you support?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 8:16 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “Nonprofit Organizations; Stop Asking for Money and Start Sharing a Vision”

|
  1. richdixon says:

    Probably true of great for-profits as well. When folks buy an Apple product aren’t they buying the story (and community) as much as the product?

  2. Robert Reeves says:

    Can you provide some examples of non-profits that are doing this well?

  3. Mark Kenny says:

    I’ve often thought charities need to be less sad in their marketing. Maybe sounds shallow but I think it just depresses people and makes them feel hopeless. They should share their successes and the real change that they are effecting. that’s much more inspiring than sad pictures of people suffering.

    • Phil Cooke says:

      There’s certainly the feeling that negative emotions will move an audience to give, and there is much truth to that.  But that’s not enough.  No matter how bad things are, for people to give they need to know you have a solution – a solution that inspires and excites them.

      • DWIGHT BOBSON says:

        People want to be associated with success and so an org. must project and have info that says they are a success.  If that’s the same as Vision, i agree.

  4. Mike Oodarnik says:

    Or do you ever think there can be too MUCH vision?  read this today  …
    http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/2590/too-much-vision
     

    • Phil Cooke says:

      Too much of anything isn’t necessarily good. It’s true that there are plenty of “visionary” leaders who are simply incompetent.  But the challenge I”m seeing far more is the inability to inspire donors to the possibilities their giving can make happen.

  5. Kyla says:

    I can totally relate to this perspective change! Out of inexperience I used to share the problem. That stopped when I got an email from someone on the outside looking in at my non-profit they we’re blunt and honest about how I was sharing the message of my non-profit at first it floored me and I was tempted to get my back up about it “How could they say that!” instead I changed how we shared our message and started sharing a vision and the hope that I believed my non-profit had to offer.  It changed everything instantly. We’ve still got a way to go. But I appreciated what they said, and it’s changed everything about how we present ourselves.

  6. Jake says:

    I agree 100%. Recently I have been let in on the financial situation of our organization and my head was focused on the numbers. I could feel it leaking into my visits with our friends and supporters. It was actually quite shocking to see and feel their reaction lacking empathy. Then, I would get inspired about something that God had done through the ministry, tell that and BOOM instant traction. Charitable giving is all about the heart.  Great piece. What I needed to hear today. Thanks!

  7. Virginia says:

    I
    believe their needs to be balance.  The
    vision is very important, but so are the needed resources.  Without passionate vision the ask can sound
    like you are apologizing or embarrassed for your need. But…………if you
    don’t express the need for support, while you are sharing the vision with enthusiasm,
    the resources will not be there to carry out the vision.

  8. [...] Nonprofit Organizations; Stop Asking for Money and Start Sharing a Vision [...]

  9. [...] Phil Cooke lays out the problem most non-profits face, …The problem is, they’re asking for money, not sharing a vision. Look at your media presentations, videos, live events, print materials, and in-person contacts. What do they say? What story are they telling? It’s not enough just to show the great work you’re doing and then ask for money. Perhaps more important, it’s also not just about information. You can bury people in numbers, statistics, and graphs, and still not inspire them to open their wallets. [...]

|

Leave a Reply