Blog Contributor: Sam Moore, Online Communications Coordinator at the Missouri Historical Society and YNPN St. Louis Marketing Committee Member
If there’s one refrain I hear over and over again when it comes to why people don’t work in nonprofit organizations, it’s:
“I love the mission of such-and-such organization, but the whole fundraising thing… ugh. I mean, asking people for money?”
To a certain extent, I completely agree with this sentiment. Asking for money is never fun or comfortable. But it’s important to remember what we do as nonprofit organizations—we are not teenagers asking our parents for gas money. We are effective, engaging, meaningful change-makers presenting funders with opportunities to support the incredible work we do.
Getting comfortable with fundraising starts with getting connected to your organization’s mission. Personally, I work in museums. And there is nothing more exciting for me than starting fascinating conversations and making change in our communities through the preservation and presentation of our collective history (holy buzzwords, batman). If you’re passionate about what your organization does, you’ve already won half the fundraising battle. Passion sells funders and adds legitimacy to the PowerPoint or proposal packet that’s sitting in front of them.
The second thing to remember is this—if a funder is on your organization’s radar, it’s because they have money to spend and they've demonstrated an interest in spending it to support a great cause. Most of the time we aren’t gathering support from random people we meet on the street. When working with funders, be they foundations or individuals, we're working with people who are dedicated to supporting important causes—and we get to make the connection between an important cause and a willing funder. Passionate about education? Here are all of the incredible ways my organization makes an impact on the education field, and here’s an opportunity for you to support that. Passionate about the environment? Here are the number of trees, community gardens, and communities served by my organization, and here’s an opportunity for you to support this brand new initiative that would help us expand our programming even further. Passionate about history and the St. Louis community? Check out all of the ways you can support student learning, spectacular exhibits, and engaging programming with a gift to the Missouri History Museum. (sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing that in there.)
As young nonprofit professionals, we are the best advocates for our organizations and their missions. We are already energetic, encouraging, effective advocates when we talk to friends and family about our work—what’s so different about taking that enthusiasm and passion into a conversation with someone who is actively looking for ways to support similar causes? That shouldn’t scare us or make us queasy—it should get us excited.