Where can you find new fundraising opportunities for your non-profit? How can you continue to grow your fundraising efforts, despite the challenges your non-profit may be facing?

The first step in identifying fundraising opportunities is reviewing and challenging your current fundraising processes and efforts. Why are you doing things a certain way, and how could they be done differently?

Many years ago, as a brand-new non-profit executive, one of my many assignments was to expand fundraising in four large geographical areas. It was a rural area comprised of dozens of small towns separated by miles of farmland. Before my arrival, fundraising efforts consisted of several local grass-roots fundraising efforts, which were very labor-intensive but produced minimal monetary results. One of the first things I did in the role was challenging why my predecessor did fundraising a specific way. I then identified how to do fundraising differently. Over the next two years, I simplified our fundraising efforts by stopping things that were not working, continuing things that were, and starting new initiatives. As a result, fundraising doubled in the area in two years.

Here are four things you can do to identify new fundraising opportunities for your non-profit:

Expand your vision: As a fundraiser, it is easy to bury yourself in paperwork and meetings and caught up in all your day-to-day responsibilities in the office.  One of the easiest ways to identify new fundraising opportunities is to start spending more time listening to your stakeholders. This process begins internally by visiting with your staff and team to understand what parts of fundraising is working well and what areas could be improved. It also means asking for their advice and empowering and engaging them in finding an answer. Expanding your vision also means spending more time listening to your donors to determine why they support your cause. When visiting with others, pay close attention to challenges to avoid and opportunities to explore. The best vision is often a shared vision.

Expanding your vision requires communicating where you see your organization going, what will be necessary to get there, and why you have headed that direction.

Take the initiative: The way you react to obstacles and challenges will play a significant role in your long-term success. Do you succumb to the pressure and give up, or do you adapt, innovate, and find fundraising opportunities that were previously not available? Taking the initiative means thinking outside-of-the-box and seeing opportunities in challenges. It means giving yourself and others the permission and power to provide constructive feedback and act.  

Take Action: One of the beautiful parts of fundraising is the ability to create relationships and fundraising opportunities that previously did not exist. This means taking the being pro-active, taking the initiative, and making things happen.  Taking action requires setting a bold vision of future fundraising opportunities. It means challenging the status quo.

Engage Others: It is noteworthy that long-term fundraising success is created by engaging, including, and empowering others to act. The process of engaging others means communicating challenges and opportunities with others, encouraging others to find solutions to problems, and empowering others to act. An essential part of empowering others is helping them to feel comfortable failing and giving permission for others to solve problems differently than you would have. Some of my greatest successes occurred after failing multiple times before I found the right fundraising opportunities.

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