The Lesson from a Nonprofit that Shut its Doors

out of business

A nonprofit I’ve supported off and on for a few years just went under.

My heart goes out to the staff and to the people they serve.

I’m sharing this with you because what they did over the last couple of months is an object lesson in how to fail.

The Lesson For You

Don’t hide your needs.

If you have a need right now, please share it with your donors.

Seriously, if you have a big need and haven’t put it in front of your donors, stop reading this and go write an e-appeal.

Let your donors decide whether to meet that need or not. Don’t take the decision out of their hands.

What the (Former) Organization Did

They hid the need.

I looked back at all the emails I received from them over the past two months.

In the two months before they went under, their fundraising shared nothing but success stories.

Which, unsurprisingly, made me think that nothing was wrong.

How was I supposed to know that my help was urgently needed?

How were donors supposed to know that they could play a meaningful part in helping the organization survive?

Courage & Vulnerability

This organization did not have the courage to share the real situation with their donors.

This organization did not have the vulnerability to really tell donors what was going on and ask their donors to help.

To the end, the organization wanted to keep their fundraising completely positive. They did. And they ended.

So to you I say…

Be Courageous and Vulnerable.

Be courageous and communicate with your donors more during the next few months, not less.

Be vulnerable and share the needs your organization and your beneficiaries are facing, then ask donors to meet those needs with a gift today.

Since receiving this news, I’ve had meetings with two organizations we’re working with. The smaller organization has raised twice as much money thus far this year as they normally do.

The larger organization is ahead of where they were last year, and was up 30% in April.

Just trying to make my final point for today:

Donors will do their part to help the charities, causes and beneficiary groups that they love.

If we let them know that help is needed, that is.

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