What’s Your Vision?

Do you wake up each morning wondering how bigger, more established organizations are able to raise more funds year in and year out?  In my decades working with nonprofits that range in size, the toughest hurdle to making and sustaining the step up in size and impact comes down to vision.  If you truly believe that your organization is important and could and should be making a bigger impact then why don’t you start articulating that importance through a more ambitious statement of vision?  Once you share a more inspiring vision of where you want to go and how donors can help you get there, you’ll be on your way.

The first step in developing a vision is by articulating the “Why”.  Simon Sinek articulates this as well as anyone in his bestselling book, Start With Why.  In it, he describes how so many people and companies fail because they spend their time telling people WHAT they do instead of telling them WHY they do it.  I’ve experienced the same phenomenon in the non-profit world as well intentioned fundraisers and staff members spend a valuable lunch with a prospective donor giving a laundry list of what their organization is doing rather than inspiring them to understand why the impact of this activity is deserving of current and future support.  Is your organization worth supporting because your volunteers tutored 100 students in the past year or is it worth supporting because you want to increase high school graduation rates from 70% to 95% in the next 10 years, because high school graduation rates are a strong indicator of future personal and professional success? 

In that example, the “why” is forward looking and inspires the listener to dream with you about what might be possible.  The “what” is backward looking and, although it may be impressive to share a list of accomplishments, it doesn’t engage the listener as a participant in the accomplishment. 

Donors give to what they help to create and when you share a vision they can help achieve you can increase the likelihood that they will want to support it financially.  It also provides a great opportunity to visit the donor in the future to share progress so they continue to support the growth of your organization as you pursue your vision together.  So, as you prepare to make the jump to increased impact and size, be sure to start with why and develop a vision that inspires your donors to help you reach your destination.

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