Telling Your Financial Story
August 30, 2010
These days, financial stability is on everyone's mind—nonprofits, foundations, and individual donors alike. Some grantmakers have even defined a particular response to the economic downturn, which can entail increased giving, special grant or loan programs, or temporary suspensions or reductions in giving. Whatever form it takes, if a grantmaker specifies a response to the economic crisis, it can be viewed at Glasspockets (in the Who Has Glass Pockets? area) and in the economic crisis field in FDO grantmaker profiles.
Lately there are a few optimistic reports out, stating that the worst is over and predicting growth in fundraising over the course of the coming year. Even so, fundraising and finance remains a hot topic. Foundation Directory Online is a great resource for finding funders, but as you probably know this is only the first phase of a much longer application process. Being able to tell the story of your organization or program is an important component of putting together an effective, engaging funding proposal. But is this all that grantmakers are looking for?
Here is an interesting piece in Philanthropy Journal from Shilipi Shah, associate director of the Midwest for the Nonprofit Finance Fund, about effectively communicating your financial story as a way of assuring funders that your organization is financially sound and sustainable, thus making it more attractive to funders. "As resources become scarce," Shah writes, "funders look beyond pure mission, focusing on strong management and a stable financial base to ensure an organization will be able to deliver in the long-term."
She details a number of ways to evaluate how the composition of your organization's finances have changed (or not changed) over the past 3-5 years, and what this could mean for your organization. Of course, this doesn't make being able to present a compelling description of your organization's activities any less important, but it is certainly something to consider when developing a long-term plan for your organization.