There's been a lot of talk lately about the President's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which seeks to reduce or eliminate hundreds of programs.

I work with many nonprofit groups that could be deeply impacted by the proposed cuts. Programs like 21st Century Community Learning Centers, those funded by Community Development Block Grants, and many more.

I also work with groups like community health centers, which should continue to be supported under the proposed budget.

The keywords here are "proposed," "could" and "should." The proposed cuts may or may not happen. The proposed support may or may not stay at its current level.

Regardless, what the President has proposed should serve as a reminder to all nonprofits that things change. And, that's why it's important to create and keep a diverse revenue stream.

That means not relying on one major grant. Not relying on one major donor. Not relying on one single event.

Plus, when you think bigger and more broadly, not only can you raise more money - you can do more good.

   

BEFORE THIS FISCAL YEAR ENDS, MAKE A PLAN TO MEET YOUR FUNDRAISING GOAL

If your fiscal year ends on June 30, you have about 90 days to meet this year's fundraising goal.

Do you know where things stand with your nonprofit's finances?

If you're an executive director, I'd bet you do. What about all you board members out there?

You should be reviewing this number at every board meeting. And you should be talking strategically about what you can do – all of you, not just the staff – to make sure that you're bringing in the money you need to do your work and meet your mission.

Take a few minutes and look at your last Treasurer's Report. See where your year-to-date actuals are, compared to your current year's budget.

Then consider what you have coming up over the next 3 months – and what money might be coming in.

Give Local Day in May?

Your signature fundraising event?

Grants that are pending?

What do realistically expect to bring in over the next 90 days?

If you anticipate a budget shortfall, don't just talk about it. Make a plan and start taking steps to meet this year's budget.

As you're making your plan, think about approaching fundraising at the end of your fiscal year the very same way that you would approach fundraising at the end of the calendar year.

   

BEFORE THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR STARTS, MAKE A PLAN TO MEET YOUR FUNDRAISING GOAL

Assuming your fiscal year starts on July 1, your nonprofit is probably in the throes of creating next year's budget.

Far too many nonprofits use last year's budget as the baseline for next year's budget.

Instead, I challenge you to do this. Think about what your nonprofit really needs next year, and build that in to your budget.

Maybe you need a new donor database.

Maybe you need to add a new staff person (or two).

Maybe you need to be able to offer higher wages or benefits to recruit new staff or keep key staff from leaving your organization during the next year.

Whatever it is, figure out what you really need, why you need it, and what that really costs. Then build those numbers into next year's budget.

In the new book, Joan Garry's Guide to Nonprofit Leadership, Joan says, "I wish more organizations would focus on driving revenue rather than expense reductions."

Me, too, Joan. Me, too.

For a lot of nonprofits, this is a paradigm shift.

Old thinking: You let the money you have (or don't have) determine what you can do.

New thinking: You let your mission (and your needs) drive the amount of money you need to raise.

I encourage you to start talking now about what you need. AND, as importantly, start talking about what you need to do next year to increase and diversify your revenue stream. Launch a major donor campaign? Embrace peer-to-peer fundraising?

Just remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to raising money. What works for one nonprofit may or may not work for yours.

One thing is true for all nonprofits though. If you want to reach your fundraising goal, you need a fundraising plan - and you need put that plan into action.

In the words of legendary author and educator Peter Drucker, "Plans are only good intentions, unless they immediately degenerate into hard work."

   

FINAL THOUGHTS

If your fiscal year ends on June 30, now's the time to take action to make sure you end the year in the black.

At the same time, it's not too early to be thinking about next year's goals – what they are and how you're going to reach them.

Whether you're looking at the next 90 days or ahead into the next year, you should set a fundraising goal.

Then make a fundraising plan.

Then work your plan.

With a plan and hard work, you'll be on your way to achieving your next fundraising goal.

This year. Next year. And every year.


Need help creating a fundraising plan? Let Laura help.

Send a message to start the conversation and learn how Laura Rhodes can help you and your organization raise more money for your cause


Photo thanks to Jonathan Petersson at Unsplash