Tag Archives: social activism

Bootstrap All The Livelong Day: Fundraising for Tiny Teams, Part 1 (The Basics)

bootstrap nonprofit fundraising

Just like within organizational leadership:

You will have the most success by focusing your efforts on making it easier for your community to support your organization or cause.

There is no silver bullet:

“There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude [tenfold] improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity.”

So, forget about tackling one or two monumental projects to raise funds on your own and focus on the many ways your constituents can come together and help keep your programs funded. Grants, large events and major projects do have a lot of value. But, when you have a small team, empowering your external tribe will help build a scalable and sustainable foundation of support. Be a change agent and implement these quick and simple tools to fast track your growth.

The Basics

If you do nothing else, do these things and you’re solid:

(1) Have a clear (and positive) message (example)

What is your mission (one sentence)? How will you achieve that (one sentence)? We often struggle with clarity when we’re passionate about something. Get outside help, even if it’s just from a smart friend who will listen and then parrot back your message.

(2) Have a clean website (example)

Think about your FAQs. Consider what people need from you. Leave the rest at home.

(3) Get good photos (example)

Content is important. Photos are part of your content. They grab attention, provoke emotional responses and enable you to capitalize on opportunities with media.

(4) Make sure you’re setup on PayPal and FirstGiving

Even if you do not choose to use these platforms for fundraising, other people will. If someone would like to run a road race on your behalf, make it easy for them to raise funds through their own FirstGiving page.

(5) Keep your constituents in the loop regarding updates

People will eventually tune out too much negativity. You don’t need to hide the problems that you a struggling with, but you should focus on the solutions you are offering (which inherently acknowledge the challenges). If your challenge is complicated, definitely give people the opportunity to learn more. Forget content for the sake of content, transparency IS king. Creating content without transparency and clarity is just going to make your job much harder.

Negative vs. positive messaging is definitely something that is up for debate. Negative messaging will often get some immediate and viral responses, but examples tend to show that positive messaging is more sustainable.

Upcoming Posts

  • The Tools
  • The Strategies

Image from Beat Kung.

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“You can’t save the world.”

Has anyone ever told you that you can’t save the world? Sometimes this phrase is offered with the intention of comfort. A parent may be trying to prevent disappointment for a child. A colleague may attempt to reshape your expectations following a tumultuous event. Or, a friend may be comforting oneself when failing to truly foster the ideals you share.

However, these words rarely deliver comfort (for me, at least) or ease stress when it’s nearly impossible to remain idle without a suggestion, an idea, a new perspective when sensing a problem. The statement merely invokes a sense of muffled helplessness. A feeling that my actions are not appreciated or worthwhile. Why is that?

I do not believe that everyone should constantly strive for such a lofty goal. After all, the fruits of your labor may never truly manifest during your own lifetime. But most goals do relate to changing something and change is a difficult thing to inspire or manage.

So, I’m not surprised that I often sense a tone of discouragement within the phrase “you can’t save the world.” And sadly, this seems like such a common response from parents, colleagues and friends.

The world is changing and not on it’s own, but because of people. How people are interacting. What people are creating. How everyone is coping. Why discourage any individual from choosing to influence that change, especially in a positive way? Think about it. Is there anything positive or useful about telling someone that they “can’t save the world” in any context?

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