One of the most frequent questions I get from non-profit leaders is, “How can I get foundations to SEE me and FUND me.”
You’d be surprised by my answer.
The most important thing you can do to get funded is to have a clear and compelling reason for your organization being a change-agent. What do I mean by this?
You need to be able to simply state what about your work will create a better world…and what is it that you do uniquely to create that change.
How do you shape that message? Here are three practices that I’ve recommended to clients that you can use to help frame your “elevator message”:
- Go away somewhere by yourself (or with one or two others in leadership) at least once every year. Take at least 4 hours each day with no cell service, Internet, or social media to reflect on the ways you have made change happen. Find time to meditate in silence and write down your reflections. See our Desert Retreats as one example.
How often as non-profit leaders do we know the stats, staffing mix, and the name of our programs, but have difficulty in crafting a story of our success—or our outcomes? I know amazing leaders who just feel like they don’t have the time to go away. This stunts the growth of an organization. Not only do you need clear physical and mental space, but you also need to recharge.
- Ask an existing funder why they choose you over other similar organizations. Getting the messages that ARE being heard is a wonderful thing to build upon.
Many funders spend time evaluating the various ways one organization works versus another. They look at the field you are in and constantly look for duplication.
- Ask current board members why they joined your organization’s board over another and why they choose to stay for as long as they have. Capture the nuggets of their responses. Your board needs to be your ally in getting your message across.
Asking them also reinvigorates their passion for your work. If it doesn’t, then it may be that you’re not communicating your worth in a way that works for them.
Needless to say, these all work best when developed in concert with strategy, messaging, and marketing. The good news is that there are talented people out there with the skills to help you sort through your approaches. But NO ONE can tell the story of the organization better than you.
Ready to get noticed? Contact Maya for a consultation.