The myth that small budget nonprofit organization cannot or should not pursue multimillion dollar campaigns is exactly that: a myth.The size of your nonprofit organization’s operating budget does not dictate its fundraising prowess.How do I know? The nonprofits who have been successful:A battered women’s shelter with an annual budget of $90,000 raises $2.1 millionA youth summer camp with an annual budget of $300,000 raises $8 millionA community arts groups with an annual budget of $160,000 raises $3.8 millionA statewide professional society with an annual budget of $40,000 raises $7 millionA small town Boys & Girls Club with an annual budget of $280,000 raises $2.5 millionA group helping sexually abused children with an annual budget of $450,000 raises $4.5 millionA community based drug and alcohol recovery organization with an annual budget of $150,000 raises $1.3 million and 30 months later raises another $1.1 million.There are more examples, but I think you get the point.There are always reasons not to pursue a comprehensive campaign:“The economy is poor.”“We don’t have enough staff.”“The board is not engaged.”“We don’t have answers to a lot of our questions answered yet (I call this one paralysis thru analysis).”“We have no big gift donors (and you won’t if you don’t do a campaign).”“There are groups currently doing campaigns in our city.”“We’ve never done a multi-million dollar campaign before.”And my personal favorite, “No one knows who we are (beyond money, campaigns serve to greatly increase the visibility and profile of an organization).”All of these dynamics were true for these nonprofit groups. Still, they went on to raise major dollars in service to the clients served by their nonprofit group.Each of these groups had a different mission and a different type constituency. What these successful organizations have in common is a desire to better serve their clients and to serve more people in need. These groups engaged fundraising counsel and each pursued a major campaign. On any given day they had their doubts and concerns about their fundraising, but each trusted and pressed forward with the fundraising process.Most importantly they did not allow their doubts and fears to delay or high-jack their ultimate goal of raising more money to better serve their clients.If an organization of any size allows the current view of itself, including the size of its annual budget, to influence its future it strikes me that its future will be much like its past.by a Hartsook Consultant guest blogger
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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