How do you shelter your organization from uncertain political winds?


The effects of an election on your nonprofit can vary widely. You could be a local organization that gets funds from the city or county government and are facing cuts if certain candidates get elected. That’s been a recent threat for several human service and arts organizations here where I live. We’ve been able to blunt the impact so far, but all it would take is another ideologically driven commissioner and all local funds for the arts and social services would be cut.

You could be an organization that relies on state or federal funding and depending on the makeup of the legislature or who is sitting in the Oval Office, you could be affected positively or negatively depending on the types of programs you provide.

Regardless, I think there’s a way to shelter yourself: take the time to create a culture of philanthropy, build the support you need to survive, and engage individual donors in the life of your organization. If you’ve integrated the following steps into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine, you should be able to weather the affects of shifting political winds on your fundraising outcomes.

  1. Identification (Make a List)
  2. Cultivation (Engage the List)
  3. Invitation (Make the Ask)
  4. Stewardship (Show Gratitude)

It’s the foundation of all effective and sustainable annual giving programs. And it’s pretty easy, really. In some ways it’s too easy. Too easy to let urgent and less important things on your to do list take over your life. Next thing you know, you’ve forgotten to call a donor or schedule a lunch visit and the consistency is broken.

If you and your board don’t make it your top priority to ensure the consistent identification, cultivation, invitation, and stewardship of your donors, you’ll end up with a mediocre, ineffective, inefficient, and susceptible organization. How are you going to advance your mission if you let that happen?