Three Nonprofit Development Guiding Principles
Welcome to Momentum! Launching a nonprofit consulting business has been a longtime professional goal, and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm deeply grateful for the opportunities I've been given and the people I've met who have helped prepare me to take this leap.
I'll be using this space to address timely topics related to nonprofit fundraising, but first, I wanted to share a few basic beliefs that guide my approach to mission-based work. These are principles that have held true for me throughout my years in the nonprofit sector, and they will continue to guide me as I begin this new professional chapter.
1) Cultivating honest, authentic relationships with funders is as important as a nonprofit's actual programmatic work. This holds true for both public and private funders, and it means taking the time to meet (in person whenever possible), ask questions, and to really listen to funder priorities. It means thinking critically about whether your mission aligns with a funder's interests and if it does, articulating that through a combination of data and stories consistently over time. If your mission doesn't align with a funder's priorities, it means accepting that and moving on. Cultivating authentic funder relationships also means being honest about not only what has worked, but also what hasn't. It means celebrating and owning when things go well, and being honest about lessons learned when they don't. This intentionality is critical to building trust and ultimately, to sustaining the organization.
2) Documenting development work is as important as the quality of the work itself. I've been told I have a penchant (read: obsession) for documenting and organizing my work. This is because I've walked into too many situations where critical information such as funder relationships or progress against goals is difficult to find at best, and nonexistent at worst. Documenting this work is as much a part of fundraising as the actual relationship building, because any progress made does no good if others don't know about it. Retaining institutional knowledge through documentation is just as important as meeting fundraising goals.
3) Nonprofits deserve ample financial support to carry out the mission of the organization. This means allowing nonprofits to pay all staff a fair living wage. In an effort to prove their efficiency to funders, too many nonprofits, particularly smaller nonprofits, feel compelled to present budgets that are insufficient, often at the expense of the very people carrying out the organization's mission. While nonprofits should certainly be held to high standards of financial accountability, they cannot be expected to perform miracles on poverty wages. It's time to start supporting those working on the front lines of some of our most complex systemic problems by ensuring they have the resources to care for themselves and their families.
These are a few of the principles that guide and motivate me to help nonprofits reach their goals. I love this work and I feel privileged to support organizations working to make life richer, better, and more fulfilling. I hope you'll reach out if I can support you.