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No Money, No Mission

“No money, no mission.” I first heard that expression 20+ years ago from Greg Lukeman, longtime and tremendously successful Executive Director of St. Louis Effort for AIDS. He went on to say that his organization had ambitious goals providing food and services for people living with HIV. But without adequate revenue they could not achieve those goals.

After all, if an organization can’t pay the rent, cover payroll, purchase supplies or equipment then it cannot fulfill its mission, much less expand it.

I could take this discussion in about 20 different directions at this point, and write about focusing on services that generate revenue, or more effectively managing cash flow or finding ways to reduce costs.

But when I heard that phrase, “no money, no mission,” it was a lightbulb moment for me. It changed my perception of fundraising. Prior to that raising money had just been a perfunctory task for nonprofits, in my mind. That expression made me realize that fundraising is a mission critical task. The vast majority of nonprofits have a gap between revenue they generate for providing their services (if any at all) and the cost of providing those services. Fundraising is what fills that gap, enabling the organization to carry out its mission and grow. That was the moment I understood that a strong, reliable fundraising program is essential for any nonprofit orgnaization’s long term viability. And it demands everyone’s attention.

Every member of the organization must not only grasp, but embrace, the importance of fundraising – board members, senior leadership, volunteers, and staff. The better everyone understands the role fundraising plays in the execution of organization’s mission and the better they understand the process, the more invested and helpful they will be. The more integrated the whole team is in the fundraising process the more successful fundraising will be.

This is my last post for 2021. My first post in 2022 will be on the flip side of this quote, no mission, no money. If you are on my mailing list you will get a notice for that post. If you are not on my mailing list and would like to know when I publish my next post, scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up. You can always unsubscribe.

I wish all a wonderful holiday season. Catch you in the new year!

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