Your Mission — It Is Not What You Do, But the Difference You Make in the Lives Of People
No matter what your position or role in an organization’s fund-raising efforts, the mission statement is the single most important thing you must understand. The mission statement outlines the organization’s values and purposes, programs and services, and hopes and dreams — its priorities. Printed on the back of a schedule, gracing the first page of an annual report or emblazoned on a lobby wall, it purports to delineate the whys and wherefores, explain the purpose, and elucidate the value to the community of an organization. It is, or should be, a statement of an organization’s reason for being and its strengths. As such, it is the first statement in the litany of fund-raising.
Making the Case for Support
You can’t make the case for support unless you know your organization’s strengths. Neither can you expect to succeed without an understanding of its weaknesses and perceived negatives. I remember a campaign I worked on during my first year in fund-raising. A hospital was trying to raise money to build a new 200-bed facility to replace its existing 100 beds. Sounds reasonable at first blush. The problem was the hospital only had a 40 percent occupancy rate. Our job was to raise money to add 100 beds to a hospital which already had 60 empty beds. There goes the argument for needed expansion.
However, we understood that seeming weakness in our case and why it existed. As a result, we were able to to eliminate the perception of it as a negative argument against our campaign. The hospital was better than half empty because it was antiquated. Doctors didn’t want to send their patients there. The solution was to build a new hospital, and the community needed the additional 100 modern beds.
My point is this: if your organization has a weakness that can be perceived as a fund-raising negative, you don’t ignore it. You face it head on, take the offensive, and turn it into a fund-raising strength.
New and forming organizations are fraught with weaknesses and perceived fund-raising negatives. To begin with, the community got along without them in the past. How does a new organization know it is needed now? Has it done a market analysis? Is there a compelling reason for the organization to exist and for specific people to support it? The answer to those questions can be found by asking one question, and it is a question every organization new or old must ask at the onset of every fund-raising campaign. It needs to be asked about the organization in general and the specific purpose the campaign is supporting.
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