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How to position your organization for dramatic growth

By Paul Jolly
October 17, 2019

Does your organization have a handful of donors who could give dramatically more?  Could you do more / better work if you had more resources?  Are you ready to grow?  If the answers to these questions is yes, here is a simple process, likely to take one year or so, to take your organization to the next level.

  1. Create a three-to-five-year plan, including past successes, reasons for confidence in future growth, resources needed to reach the next plateau, and an invitation to join the adventure. This is a job for staff and board.  (In traditional capital campaign jargon, this is called a “case statement.”  I usually call it a growth plan. GrantSpace, a service of Candid, offers several resources on case statements/growth plans.)
  1. When the plan is as good as board and staff can make it, share it with donors. Use sharing the plan as a spark for conversation. Do not send it out and ask for feedback.  Instead, send your donors a message like this: “Because you have demonstrated your commitment to this organization, we would like to get your guidance as we embark on a dramatic growth plan.  Board and staff have written a plan that is as powerful as we can make it, but we feel it could be better.  Would you be willing to look it over and share your candid feedback?Note: I have often been asked what will happen if a donor comes up with a screwball idea.  I’ve never seen it happen.  If your document is compelling, and the logic connecting past successes and future growth opportunities is sound, it is unlikely someone who loves your organization is going to say, “Why not try this instead?”Another note: I have also been asked if it isn’t disingenuous to ask people for advice when you really hope for a contribution.  Your donors will be able to tell if you are really interested in guidance, or if it is just a sneaky insinuated request for money.  If you are really open to their insights, you will receive helpful and perhaps surprising feedback.
  1. After you have gotten feedback from all of the donors who want to offer it, revise the document with their suggestions. With the board’s approval of the final plan, set up follow-up appointments with the donors, and ask if they would like to play a role in the fulfillment of the plan.

Donors, generally, want to be involved in other ways besides making gifts.  This process honors that desire and takes advantage of their expertise and wisdom.  If you ask for their participation in a way that acknowledges their intelligence, most will eagerly say yes.

Tags: Fundraising