The Secret Formula To Unlock Funding For Your Nonprofit

Let’s get down to business and get into the secret formula to increase funding for your nonprofit…

A secret formula? Really? Yes, and this isn’t a supernova blueprint for grant writing or the newest edge in social media to get people to click ‘donate’ on your crowdfunding campaign; it is much better than that and much more simple.

This secret formula can unlock millions of dollars from the ether that are waiting to be given to your nonprofit. It can increase partnerships and relationships at an exponential level. It can increase prosperity for your staff so that they are no longer glorified volunteers.

As I mentioned it is simple, although simple isn’t always easy. I have seen this same secret formula work for my business and for many nonprofits that I work with… if they take the lesson to heart and transform their minds.

So what is this secret formula?

Just what is this golden nugget?

First, let’s talk about what it will solve.

The reason why I want to share this with you is that a majority of nonprofits and clients that I first start interacting with suffering from not tapping into this formula. They go from year to year in the same old funk with little hills of grants or small fundraisers along the way but then dip into lulls of paycheck to paycheck survival for their nonprofit.

There is a heaviness to the nonprofit where many individuals do not know if they will have a job once the grant is expended at the end of the year, when a new government administration moves in, or when the big company donor in your town closes shop.

There is an underlying consistent feeling of insecurity and of helplessness with hiccups of meager faith and hope. This grinding frustration and sometimes slight depression can be expressed with the much too often thought that others should be giving to your nonprofit and even sometimes even manifested as anger because others are not supporting your cause.

Now, if you allow me to go to a deeper place with you today, just see if you have felt any of these feelings. There’s no judgment here as the amazing Gay Hendricks, in The Big Leap, succinctly states that “feelings are meant to be felt.” However, awareness of these feelings can sometimes bring liberation.

Maybe you have felt a tightness in your chest or shoulder blades, haven’t been able to sleep through the night, or just a heaviness that can’t be shaken.

This is the first step of the magic formula:

1. Awareness of Thoughts and Feelings (both emotional and physical)

What are you feeling emotionally?

Tiredness? Disappointment? Desperation?

I’ve seen the mental health of social workers and nonprofit workers circulate with these three feelings often. From the thought that working in this field will only bring meager peanut paychecks yet result in life-transforming satisfaction of helping others.

The reality is, well whatever you think to be true, but some nonprofit workers exist in a martyrdom that turns to irritation once they realize that deep satisfaction isn’t always felt and the paychecks just can’t pay the bills.

  • Do you believe that because you work for a nonprofit you should get very little pay?
  • Do you believe that a nonprofit should immediately pay you a six-figure check?

Both beliefs – on each side of the pendulum – are inconsistent, yet pervasive.

But the awareness of these thoughts is important.

  • What do you believe?
  • When you get real with yourself how does it feel when you believe this?
  • Do you feel a tightness in your body anywhere? Do you feel tired? Do you feel energetic and ready to serve?
  • If you don’t feel energetic and ready to serve, then why not?

Start with just being aware of what you think and feel, both physically and emotionally.

2. Tap into WHY you are doing what you are doing

There is a reason you started your nonprofit, volunteer at a nonprofit, or are a grant writer. You see a need and want to be a part of a solution. You are passionate or compassionate about a certain issue.

Maybe you started an animal shelter because you can’t stand the sight and thought of animals suffering, or maybe you volunteer at a nonprofit that helps survivors of human trafficking because you yourself are a survivor, or maybe you are a grant writer and focus on raising money for universities or hospitals because you are passionate about increasing jobs in your community.

Whatever the reason, there is usually a deep-seated reason that resonates with your values.

Because of this reason you create an energy that is more valuable than cash: your talents, passion, and drive. Just this alone will unlock the woo-woo of the universe to start generating life and abundance for the cause.

But what can happen as you exist with a nonprofit for a while is that you can become callous to your cause and start blocking off resources and that abundant energy.

Maybe those animals in the shelter aren’t so nice to you and a dog actually bites you when you are trying to give it water.

Funny story, but not so funny, once when I was in Thailand with my mom, we saw a monkey that was on a chain that was staked into the ground. There was a split open coconut about three feet away from the monkey. The sun was hot, and the monkey sat next to the stake in the sweltering Thai air on the dusty ground. My mom felt compassion for the monkey, but also looked at the dusty ground that was about a four feet circle around the monkey. Clearly, the monkey’s stomping grounds as it had padded the ground quite well from where it could reach within the limits of its stake and chain. In a moment of compassion, my mother took her water bottle and tried to splash some of her water into the coconut husk. The monkey clearly knew its boundaries better than my mom and within a ¼ of a second went from sitting passively near its stake to attaching its teeth and claws into my mom’s hand that had just grazed past the circle.

My mom pulled back her hand into safe territory, but the monkey had pierced the skin severely. Thankfully the monkey didn’t have rabies and my mom’s hand healed well. My mom didn’t hold a grudge towards the monkey but hasn’t been so keen on monkeys since then. After nearly being attacked in India by monkeys and having my toast stolen off my table in Bali while I was sitting at the table and very pregnant and wanting to enjoy that toast, I haven’t been so fond of monkeys either.

These things can happen. We think we are helping and maybe we are, but sometimes we get bitten (literally or metaphorically) by who or what we are helping.

After working in a nonprofit that serves the homeless for many years, I no longer hand out money to those begging on the streets. I’ve been burned several times when giving out money and have learned my lesson to give out food or other items rather than cash. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give money to homeless people, but I prefer to give out what they are asking the money will provide rather than the money itself.

As a grant writer, I can serve many different organizations and am honored to help with so many compassionate causes. Often, I take on clients that have a mission that I am passionate about. If I am not truly interested in what they are doing or don’t find a genuine purpose in the nonprofit then I turn down those clients as I know I won’t be entirely into the grants.

So, to review:

  • First check your thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings in your beliefs about what you are doing.
  • Second, tap into the deep reason of why you do what you are doing. Is it still relevant? Do you need to change what you are doing? Are you hardened to what you have been doing?

Now, let’s move onto number three…

3. Realize that Money is a Mechanism and There is no Shortage

Oh, now here is the magic. Money is just a mechanism and there is no shortage.

Just because the government says they will no longer fund your project does not mean that money has disappeared. It means that it has switched hands.

But believe me, if you believe in shortage you will get a shortage of money. But if you believe in abundance and prosperity that is what you will get.

Napoleon Hill writes in his infamous book Think and Grow Rich, “Riches begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work.”

When you realize that there is no endpoint of money it helps you relax and open your nonprofit to abundance instead of scarcity.

4. The No Complaint Diet

Here is a quick activity to do to help transmute your state of mind. The No Complaint Diet can be done for an entire day, but I challenge you to do it for an entire week.

Throughout this time, write down how many times you complain about a lack of money or have envious thoughts about others that seem to have more money than you.

If that thought comes up, “It’s just so hard to get grants!”

Or if you drive past that other nonprofit’s fancy building on your way to work and have the thought, “Oh, we do even more than them,” and feel an envious pang in your chest, then write it down.

Be conscious of what you are thinking and write it down.

A further step is to pay attention to every complaint that comes out of your mouth, or that is about to, about anything.

I’m too busy, my kids are all over the place, he/she doesn’t like me, they won’t want to do ________ are some common complaints.

You may be surprised by the frequency of the thoughts or things that come out of your mouth or from those around you.

I’ve done No Complaint Diets (the more you do, the more it becomes second nature to check yourself) and I’ve been really surprised and the number of times I have to bite down so a complaint doesn’t escape or I have to rethink of how I will say something.

I know if that negativity comes out of my mouth, then the venting will come out of someone else’s mouth, and we will go down a rabbit hole of negativity. I also realize that when I say something positive instead, the negativity simply disappears. It’s amazing.

I also really notice how often others are complaining and the negativity around complaining, as well as the blockage it creates for either finding a solution or creating a route for abundance.

Do this for a week and let me know your experience!

5. Decide you will have Abundance

Just by changing your attitude and mindset about the money will open new ways of receiving abundance.

Sound hokey-pokey?

It really just makes sense.

Think of that person who complains all the time…we all know one or more than one.

Do things continually go wrong and it seems like the world is against them? Yes. It’s like if you wake up and your first step is into water (yes that happened to me before when my house flooded), you could decide the rest of your day is cursed. And it will be cursed because you decided it.

The opposite is also true. How many bingo lovers put little, stuffed animals or trinkets on their tables to bring good luck? Those lucky charms are needed to have a good hand and if one is forgotten that day the hands will be a stream of seemingly bad luck. Now those trinkets and stuffed animals surely have less power than the thoughts and desires exploding with infinite energy of the mind.

So, when I really look at it, it doesn’t seem so abstract or hokey-pokey any longer, but really it comes down to a more scientific approach or a decision.

  • Are you going to decide your nonprofit or grant writing business will have an abundance this year?
  • Or are you going to decide it’s going to be another tough year?

Really, it’s your decision.

That leads us to #6…

6. Take Responsibility for your Thoughts, Actions, and Results

I know this is podcast may seem to be on a very different topic when you are maybe asking, “Holly, I’m just listening for grant advice,” but chances are this may be a major hindrance in your receiving grants or funding for your nonprofit.

Am I am saying you could be at fault?

I’m saying your thinking is responsible for the outcomes because all your projects and efforts are first developed by your thinking, by your thoughts.

Taking 100% responsibility for your thoughts and thus the outcomes around you are your responsibility.

Remember the complaining. Pointing fingers at the government, others in your community, and even your beneficiaries is another way of complaining and not taking 100% responsibility. I get it. It can be hard.

Just yesterday I caught myself blaming someone else for not getting their part of a job done. Sure, it is true that I had been following up for weeks, but ultimately when I think about it, I could have been more proactive, and it really is my responsibility for the end game.

Why was I blaming them? Because I felt guilty and bad about not getting it done so I wanted to take it out on someone else. Ouch. The truth hurts sometimes, and it is a much seemingly harder route to suck it up and say, “Yep, I dropped the ball.”

It seems so much easier to just blame someone else and to be the victim. But when we go down that route day after day, we really bury our real abundance and success.

Manning up (or Womaning up) and saying, “Yep, I dropped the ball. Now here is how I am going to pick it up…” hurts for a minute, but then earns you respect because people understand your integrity. It also frees up abundance and makes you feel good about being honest with yourself.

This is reflected in the grants and funding, too.

Did the grant really get rejected because it was awesome? Sometimes, unfortunately, but that opens up other possibilities and you can check out episode 35 How to Embrace Grant Rejection.

But most of the time the grant was rejected because you may not have given it the time it takes to write it, you may not have read the FOA entirely to see what all was included, you may not have answered all the questions, or you may have just been chasing the money instead of really weighing if the grant was a good fit for your nonprofit.

There are many things that are usually in our grasp with how successful a grant, fundraiser, or crowdfunding campaign will ultimately be and sometimes we forget that when we look at the unsuccessful outcomes.

We immediately blame it on the others.

“The grantors just don’t like my project and they will only select people they know so they will never fund my project!”

“The sales were bad for the fundraiser because people aren’t generous anymore!”

“It is too hard to reach people on social media these days with crowdfunding because it is saturated!”

These are common complaints when, in reality, maybe you didn’t include all the attachments for the grant, have done due diligence with communicating the value of your fundraiser, or you put up two or five social media posts over a week and never got traction because you never looked at how to properly roll out a crowdfunding campaign.

I’m not saying this is the case, but I am saying to not point the finger at others.

As your thoughts come up in defiance against any of these examples, are they real or are they excuses?

Be honest with yourself.

It is time to move the needle forward…

7. Be Clear on What you Want and Focus on It

If you want more funding for your nonprofit, then it’s time to get busy.

How much do you need? Is it $100,000 per year, $5 million, $40,000?

What is your number?

Are you sure the number is what you actually need?

Are you including salaries in there that will actually pay your employees a living wage or are you thinking they can keep working at minimum wage? Are you cutting your budget at every angle to look frugal to funding sources?

The reality is that people want to fund your nonprofit if you are doing amazing work and shaving corners to penny-pinch will not be appealing to funding sources.

You can and should use federal standards of what people get paid to pay your employees. Make sure you include stipends and incentives for volunteers or interns.

It is okay to have a prosperous nonprofit.

Funding sources realize that if you come in with a price too low that your project may not be sustainable. Extreme frugality isn’t always awarded as it can actually demonstrate that you don’t even need a grant.

So, use real numbers that you need for sustainability.

You don’t want to have extremely bloated salaries and put a 300% profit on every item but do use a realistic budget.

So now that you know what you need, strategize on what grants you need to apply for, how many fundraisers you need to have, what types of donor strategies you need to put in place, etc.

Now have funding goals for each of these and believe that you can reach them.

Of course, we can’t just sit cross-legged all day and believe the money will come and it will magically appear. You do have to actually get busy and write those grants, arrange those fundraisers, etc. But do it with confidence and with integrity and believe that you will be successful.

There is your secret formula to increase funding for your nonprofit.

  1. Examined your thoughts and feelings
  2. Tapped into what you are doing and why you are doing it
  3. Notice that money is a mechanism and there is no shortage
  4. Have gone on a No Complaint Diet
  5. Decided you will have abundance, and
  6. Have taken 100% of your thoughts and circumstances
  7. Be clear with what you need and focus on it

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