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Develop Your Ask

The best way to increase your nonprofit’s chance of success is to increase the number of people working towards that success. In order to inspire people to contribute to your organization, they should understand what you’re currently accomplishing, what you’re capable of doing with additional resources, and your BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) for the future.

“What would you do if you knew you would not fail?”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Activity: What Would You Do

Take 5 minutes to look back at what you’ve accomplished in the last year.

  • Who has joined your organization over the past year? In what roles?
  • How many people have you helped? How?
  • What challenges have you overcome? Financial? Political? Logistical?

Spend 5 minutes generating a list of all the activities you plan to implement in the coming year.

  • Are you continuing the activities you listed above? Increasing the number/size/etc?
  • Are you introducing any new programs or activities?
  • Are you teaching any important information or concepts to members of your community?
  • Will you be facing any new financial obstacles in order to do what you’ve planned this year?

Give yourself 5 minutes to imagine all of the things your nonprofit could accomplish if you had unlimited resources.

  • Who would you help?
  • What help would you provide?
  • How would your work change things for the better?

Activity: Identifying and Categorizing Needs

Look back at the list of activities for the coming year that you wrote in Activity 1.

  • Highlight the items that will cost money.
  • Underline the items that will require more manpower than you currently have on your team.
  • Put a star next to items that will require a changed circumstance, like a permit or a partnership agreement.

For each of these items, write down 2-3 characteristics of people who might be able or inclined to help. For example, if you’re going door to door you might need volunteers who are energetic and outdoorsy but if you’re spreading the word on social media you might need volunteers who are tech savvy and have a big social media presence.

Hold on to that third list you created of all the things you could accomplish with unlimited resources. You might not have this fully fleshed out and ready to become part of your central story, but it’s still important for two reasons.

First, because it will inspire you to keep putting together the building blocks of donations and volunteers and today’s work.

Second, because if someone asks you are going to be ready with the answer.

Which of the following resources could be donated to your nonprofit?