Getting Attention for
Your Nonprofit’s Mission
Ann C. Fitzgerald, President
Donors today are bombarded with messages about urgent social issues, the lasting impact of a pandemic, and the contentious election season.
If your nonprofit is not engaged–directly or indirectly–in these topics, you may wonder how to get donors’ attention – and resulting support. It’s even easy to believe that donors don’t have time to care about your mission at times like these.
But take heart, because this is nothing new. There have been many examples throughout time when pressing topics or events have taken center stage. The key to keeping donors engaged is responding to issues appropriately and continuing to show that your work is relevant.
Reflect before you respond. This is good rule of thumb at all times, but its particularly important when emotionally charged issues are in the news and nonprofits wonder if and how to weigh in. Give yourself a reflection period to talk to your board, stakeholders, and staff to understand their perspectives and gain deeper insight.
Conduct surveys. Seek input from donors via online or phone surveys to better understand their thoughts on the matter.
Ask yourself: What is the right response to these issues based on our mission? Your personal response to an issue or tragedy is legitimate and important, but remember you are representing the interests of the organization.
Make a connection. If you decide to speak out on a topic, make it relevant to your mission and programs. Demonstrate to your audience that you are a legitimate voice and not just jumping on the bandwagon.
Communicate your message to everyone. Don’t assume board members, volunteers, or staff understand how you arrived at a message. Explain the how and why of your communications to all your ambassadors so your nonprofit can speak with one voice.
Continue to fundraise with sensitivity. Talk to program staff and ask which aspects of your work respond most directly to what is going on in the world. Consider if you can authentically present these efforts to raise money.
Be confident. Don’t be tone-deaf to the issues, but don’t be paralyzed either. If your mission was important before, it’s important now!
Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.