So, which comes first: the money or the mission? “Why, the mission of course” you answer ever so confidently.
But are you sure?
Let’s think about this. How many of you have had a really, really, really good idea for a new program, project or maybe even a whole new nonprofit organization? I see a few hands going up back there in the audience. Good for you: idea first. And then what happened?
Maybe you went to the Board of your JCC or Federation. Maybe you went to the program chair, the executive director, your puppy. And what was said to you in response to your really, really, really good idea?? (Woof does not count here) Great idea! Go find the money and we will move right ahead with it.
What happened next? My guess is that you stuffed that really, really, really good idea right back into your brain and said something to yourself like “I will do that just as soon as I win the Lottery”. And you might have even gone out and bought three lottery tickets to insure that you would be able to implement your really, really, good idea.
I work with a lot of nonprofit organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish. And I hear a lot of really, really, really good ideas. I teach classes on building and running nonprofit organizations and I hear a lot of really, really, really good ideas. And I always say, “What a really, really, really good idea! How are you going to pay for that?” Now I have many students who say to me “my idea is soooo good that G-d will provide” and we will be up and running very soon.
And to them -- and to everyone else -- and to you, too -- I say “NO MONEY – NO MISSION!”
Raising money, most folks say, is NOT EASY. I think that is because those same folks are thinking “Let’s do a wallk/run” or “Let’s do a big gala” or my personal favorite “Let’s do a golf tournament”. And believe you me, this is NOT the way to get that really, really, really good idea funded. Special events fund raising is time consuming (how many of you have spent 21 ½ hours stuffing goodie bags?), volunteer draining (did you know it takes approximately 932 volunteers to run a run?), dependent on the weather (did I tell you the one about the monsoon over Virginia Beach during our Great Dig for Cystic Fibrosis?), your region’s calendar of special events (I know you checked to see what was happening in the Jewish world that day, but did you know that the Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and the American Cancer Society were all holding events that day? Didn’t think so. Did you know that it is really, really, really hard to raise money for a special event if you have no major sponsors to cover the expenses and all of your participants are participating somewhere else? (But more about the raising of major sponsors in a later blog)
It is really, really, really quite simple. The best way to get your really, really, really good idea to become a reality is to begin at the beginning and start to build some really, really, really good relationships with the folks in your community who have three attributes: 1 – a philanthropic soul, 2 – the money to do something with that philanthropic soul and 3 – a wonderful group of friends/acquaintances/business buddies who love and trust them. And that is where the money for your mission will best be found.
So, next time you have a really, really, really good idea, read my blogs! Because over the next few months they are going to be full of ways to raise money without the worries, stress, aggravation or hassle, or as we would say in Yiddish, all the tsuris!