Jason Mida Answers Your Non-Profit Fundraising Questions
Jason Mida is a seasoned fundraising and political professional, having served in a number of roles throughout his career. His work has been focused in the areas that truly motivate him, including LGBT causes. Jason Mida is the former Vice President of Development for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the Vice President of Development for the American Association of Peoples with Disabilities, and the President of Mida Associates.
1. What is the biggest mistake nonprofits make when it comes to fundraising?
Many times, non-profits allow perfection to be the enemy of good, which happens because they believe there's a "secret sauce" to fundraising or that they need to emulate another organization as it relates to their own development efforts. The truth is that fundraising is messy, and it's imperfect. Once an organization decides to boldly start asking their stakeholders, whether they be board members, social media followers, friends of friends, or strangers that might entertain support, it all comes together. It takes time, but it all comes together.
2. How do you fix an anemic fundraising program?
If a fundraising program is anemic, it's a diagnosis of a larger problem, which is that it's not a daily priority for the organization. This could be that someone is not "owning" fundraising on a daily basis, that a staffing change needs to be made, or that it's simply a topic of discussion that's been pushed to the side. Regardless of how an organization got to this place, the first step in fixing this is to make sure that fundraising becomes part of the daily discussion, ideally through a dedicated meeting. If fundraising is being discussed on a daily basis, it will immediately become a stronger program.
3. What is an overlooked source of revenue for non-profits?
The biggest overlooked source is individuals. Non-profits become very reliant on support from foundations and corporations when the most available support is right in front of you - individual donors who want to support your mission with unrestricted general operating dollars.
4. Is foundation and celebrity money a sustainable way to build a non-profit?
Absolutely not. Foundation funding is definitely part of the mix, but you can't effectively grow an organization with restricted dollars that may or may not come through. Additionally, foundation support is the hardest and most time-consuming way to raise money. As for celebrities, we all love them, and they can certainly add to an event or a special occasion, but they are no substitute for a daily and substantive behind-the-scenes fundraising operation.
5. How should organizations capitalize on the current political situation for fundraising?
As much as you can, work to weave in the current political environment to your messaging, whether that be through e-appeals, newsletters, or even remarks at an event. The important thing to remember is that your messaging be steady, not hyperbolic, and within reason. You can't claim to be able to solve all the problems that might arise in the current environment. To pretend to do so would be an unfair representation to your donor base.
6. How can non-profits use their fundraising to build overall capacity?
General operating/unrestricted dollars allow you to find new talent and increase human capital. You can't grow your programs or their reach without a talented and dedicated staff that are well-paid and taken care of. Non-profits lose talent all too often because they overwork and underpay their staff. Finding and keeping dedicated and passionate staff is crucial to building overall capacity. Your greatest asset is your team - never forget that.
7. How do you turn your one-time donors into sustainable givers?
Ask them and thank them often - it's that simple.
8. What do you do if you feel like nothing is working with your fundraising?
Ask people who have successful fundraising operations how they got to where they are. Just understand that there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to fundraising.
9. What is your favorite book on fundraising?
Managing to Change the World. While this is not a "fundraising book" so to speak, it taught me how to manage a team, as well as how to manage upwardly. Whether it's the MOCHA model or other suggestions on how to delegate and how your team accountable, it's a very helpful read.
Check out more of Jason Mida's fundraising work here.