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What does growth mean to you as a fundraiser?


What does growth mean to you? It all starts with how you define resources.

As fundraisers, our job is to secure resources that will support our nonprofit's mission. We are always looking for ways to increase our organization’s resources. However, growth can mean different things to different people. It all starts with how you define resources. Some fundraisers may automatically think that the term “resources” is another way of saying revenue, but it can mean so much more than just receiving grants.

Resources are more than just revenue.

Institutional funders come to the table with more than just grant funds when supporting nonprofits. They come with their own knowledge, relationships, and perspectives. Many funders manage a portfolio of grantee organizations that are using a particular strategy, or are working to address a certain issue. This gives them a unique birds-eye view on how different organizations are achieving success or dealing with common challenges. Also, do not forget that just as we may belong to various professional network associations (e.g., Association for Fundraising Professionals), so do funders (e.g., Council on Foundations). The philanthropic community may be a lot smaller than you think.

Leverage your resources for growth.

From a fundraising perspective, growth can mean leveraging your nonprofit’s existing resources to create new opportunities. One great way to leverage your existing institutional funders is by authentically engaging them to develop deeper relationships. Your strongest funders can also be your strongest champions. Since they are already familiar with your organization’s work, funders are more receptive to having thoughtful conversations about program strategies and best practices, insights on how to address common challenges, and even make connections or introductions to other funders for funding support. Leverage their willingness to work with your nonprofit as a partner to create new opportunities.

Planting the seeds for growth.

However, it all starts with identifying who among your institutional funders your nonprofit can rely on as a resource, and assessing where there is room for growth. Building authentic and deeper relationships with funders takes time, a lot of good will, and work – like any relationship in life. Trust first has to be established before you can have transparency and accountability. However, once you have transformed your funder relationships from a transactional one to a collaborative partnership, the opportunities for growth will surprise you.

How will you view your institutional funders as resources, and leverage your relationships with them to create new opportunities for growth?

I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on what you just read. Send me your thoughts here. I am always looking for ways to provide useful insights to nonprofits seeking to increase their impact and effectiveness through fundraising and program strategies.

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