As a development professional for a small nonprofit, you spend a lot of time chasing funding in all its forms. No dollar amount is too small. And when you add to that limited time and resources, you’ve got the perfect recipe for burnout.

For the sake of your sanity, I’ve come up with a few recommendations to help you better spend your time and effort, so you can get back to what matters most: achieving your mission.

Step 1: Analyze Your Past Fundraising Efforts

I know this seems like a no-brainer, but the devil is in the details. It’s not just about the total dollar value to decide which fundraising channel is best for you. It’s also about how much time you spent securing that funding and who was involved.

Let’s take a basic example. Imagine your Executive Director spent 100 hours locking in a $10,000 grant. Now imagine your Development Coordinator spent 50 hours securing a $5,000 donation. At first glance, they may look equally effective, but what it doesn’t take into account is the salary for each of the employees.

With some basic math you can make a decision on which effort had a higher return on time invested. I’d contend that the $5,000 donation was the better use of time and resources.

Step 2: Research Your Competition

Do you know where nonprofits with similar missions are getting their funding? What is their main funding model? Don’t just look at those organizations of similar size, but look to the leaders in your category.

While you’re at it, look for organizations operating in your geographic region. What does their funding mix look like? Is there an opportunity to partner and go after a larger funding opportunity?

There’s a lot to be learned from a review of publicly available 990s and annual reports. Are you missing the boat on some funding opportunities?

3: Match it With Talent and Technology

After you’ve completed step 1 (your strengths) and 2 (where other orgs like yours get funding), what do you need to do to be more effective? I believe there are two places you need to look to take advantage of your strengths and potentially expand your capabilities to close gaps. To become best in class, you need to evaluate your:

· Talent – do you have the right people in place?
· Technology – what tools are available to help you scale?

I’ll expand on these areas in future articles, but feel free to reach out to me at to see how I can help you become more Impaktfel.