Brandee Wessel

A cultural shift within the nonprofit community

posted by
Brandee Wessel,

Director of Development
National Multiple Sclerosis
Society, Arizona Chapter

Gone are the days when nonprofit organizations were able to host a walk, gala, or other fundraising event, and have the entire weekend devoted to their organization. Now, there are often multiple events in the same time period, pulling from a similar pool of donors. What used to be a simple way to engage the community has turned into a competition on how to be more creative in raising dollars. And let’s be honest: our economy appears to be improving in certain areas, but overall we are still a ways off from the good ol’ days where unemployment and the uncertain housing market weren’t hot topics and mentioned in every news portal available. As much as we want to be optimistic, these topics make our community nervous and often unsure of what direction we are heading.

This is why we need to be working smarter, not harder, and we need to start collaborating. It is a time to unite with companies within our community and connect with one another’s missions. How can we help each other? How can we grow our fundraising campaigns and be good stewards in our community while also informing our supporters of the good work they are building on? Many are promoting fundraising campaigns within their establishments, not only engaging employees but engaging customers. This type of exposure is extremely valuable, as many nonprofits do not have a marketing budget. Furthermore, it is wise to learn as much as possible about the companies your nonprofit is connected with. Many have a matching gift program that will automatically double and sometimes triple the donations raised by company employees. This type of support can take your event to the next level.

It is also essential to partner with other nonprofits that have similar missions or even backgrounds within the community. If your missions align, you may be able to partner on projects that would otherwise be put on hold. By identifying potential partners, nonprofits can often accomplish their goals together within the same project. It is also prudent to stay in touch with colleagues and even join in their efforts within the community. For example, there is a local nonprofit whose sole mission is to bring together other nonprofit health agencies. Many times it will arrange for multiple nonprofits to visit and speak to large companies throughout the valley as a way to streamline employee giving campaigns. This is a nice way to not only highlight their respective efforts, but also keep in touch with similar organizations. Such a practice will ultimately pay off in the end when employee dollars are distributed.