Too Much of a Good Thing: Making a Case for Support When You Are Overfunded

This morning’s client challenge: we just exceeded our grants goal for a new program which has captured the enthusiasm of several major grantmakers.  In fact, there is arguably enough money to carry the program for two years  — and we still have more grantors who may want to help!  Talk about Christmas in June!!

Of course, we could pat ourselves on the back and say “well, we don’t have to write another proposal or application for at least another 12 months.”  But the reality is that when you take yourself out of play, well, you are out of play.  Momentum is a rare gift in fundraising and one never should waste the opportunity.

So, I was asked to frame what I would consider to be the major selling points for continued support.  My thoughts:

  • Be forthright and tell the prospective grantor that you have a lot of money.  Foundations are entrepreneurial organizations that are oftentimes risk adverse. Not in the sense of trying something new, but in the sense of supporting something that may not be financially viable or sustainable.  Early fundraising success is one of the strongest indicators of future sustainability.  
  • Add structure to the story.  Rather than say “aren’t we lucky, we have a lot of money” put that money into context.  What has happened is that enough money has been secured to fund a pilot and development phase.
  • Give the additional money meaning and purpose beyond a budget or balance sheet.  I believe that fundraising is not about money, but what money will buy in terms of real, positive and lasting change.  In this case, we really need to ensure the program can be continued into future years to sustain gains made with participants in the first year or so.

When success strikes, don’t hesitate to continue to build upon it.  When it comes to the valuable work that nonprofits do, there is never a case of “too much of a good thing.”  

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