The Business of Doing Good (September, 2012)
August 29, 2012Why Does Your Non-Profit Matter?
I recently had the pleasure of reading a book that inspired me – I Can Fix America – written by a successful entrepreneur that I worked with on the Jerusalem House board of directors. As I read David’s Foreword I was immediately struck by his passion for America and its ideals. David’s message was profound in its simplicity yet compelling and inspiring. His “call to action” resonated with me on many levels. Most importantly, David reminded me that all actions, large and small, make a difference. Indeed, it is because our forefathers took action that we even exist as a nation.
A common thread weaves between the pages of a motivational book and a nonprofit proposal. A strong case for support has many essential ingredients. However, the key ingredients connects the reader to the problems (compelling need); connects the need to the solutions (realistic and impactful); and invites action (inspires hope and motivation to act).
A few tips to consider when writing your organization’s case for support include:
- Appearance matters. This may be your only chance if approaching a new funder so make sure you are leaving the right image. Your presentation should be succinct, factual and professional.
- Toot your horn. If your organization has received accolades or recognition for its work, shout it from the mountain tops. The greater your credibility, the greater your funding potential. I always referred to the statement of need section as the “ain’t it awful” section. Demonstrating how your nonprofit is helping to turn awful into success can open doors and build lasting support which you will need for long-term sustainability.
- Community Impact is KEY. I recently coached a nonprofit executive director and board president who were preparing for a foundation visit. The very first question they were asked was “Why does your organization matter?” Fortunately, they were prepared to answer the question but it clearly made an impression. As the saying goes “never leave home without it.“ In this case, it is the answer to why your organization is relevant.
“Things do not happen; things are made to happen.” – John F. Kennedy
For additional information on “I Can Fix America” please visit www.icanfixamerica.com.
Ellen McCarty brings over twenty years of leadership experience in nonprofit and government sectors. Her company, McCarty & Co, brings the added value of her extensive board and volunteer involvement and deep relationships on a local, state and national level. She currently works with (among others) the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s Volunteer in Training Program for prospective board directors, and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work. Ellen graduated from Troy University with a B.S. and attended the University of Georgia in the graduate department of social work. To contact Ellen or learn more about McCarty & Co, visit her website at http://www.mccartyandco.com.