Not-for-Profits Must Network in a Tough Economy

Business LI , the official magazine of the Long Island Association, welcomed 2004 with its cover story, "To Give or Not to Give? Raising Funds in Trying Times." In this publication, we learn ...

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Business LI

, the official magazine of the Long Island Association, welcomed 2004 with its cover story, "To Give or Not to Give? Raising Funds in Trying Times." In this publication, we learn about dedicated leaders in the not-for-profit sector who continue to raise money for worthwhile causes - in spite of a bad economy. It's the same story: so many causes competing for the same funds.

What will your organization do this year to reach its goals? How will your not-for-profit stand out from the rest? Let's face it. In a perfect world, everyone would help everyone. But that's unfortunately not the case. The difference in the level of success you will achieve in marketing your not-for-profit will be made in your networking efforts.

As an in-house marketing director at a major law firm on Long Island, you can only imagine the influx of solicitations I receive on a daily basis. We help as many charities as we can, and this can be attested to by visiting our civic involvement page on our web site at www.certilmanbalin.com. However, sometimes we have to say no. And "no" is a part of fund raising, but it should not get you discouraged, especially in a new year.

When you receive a "no," be persistent and contact the next "fantasy donor" on your list. The best way to make a connection is to network and know a person from the organization you are soliciting. Cold calls are easier to say "no" to. My best advice for leaders in the not-for-profit sector is to include networking in your strategic marketing plan. Build a circle of committed volunteers who can then solicit their friends and family.

Much time, effort and money is not spent wisely on cold calls. Invest some money in an association membership and make your dues pay off through active involvement. Just as you want and need a group of committed volunteers on your team to preach your message, so you must commit to a group. And you must keep your eyes opened. You never know where opportunities will arise Your next donor may be working out at your gym, coaching your child's baseball team, or living right next door.

Good luck in your fund raising efforts! My best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.