Whether it be politics or philanthropy, having big ideas and goals are crucial to raising money. Exhibit One would be the Bernie Sanders campaign, which was enormously successful considering a small-state Senator candidate who was previously unaffiliated with either major party. He raised $210 Million, from more than 2.4 million contributors. He didn’t win the democratic primary, but he changed the political landscape on how to run, how to engage people and what is possible to request of one’s government.
A lot of small actions (or contributions) can lead to big changes. The term “Butterfly Effect” was coined in 1972 by Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist. He had observed that something as small and insignificant as a butterfly’s wings flapping in Brazil could set off a hurricane in Texas!
Some people don’t feel like their “small” contributions can make a difference, but they are wrong. Remember the 2014 ALS ice bucket challenge that went viral? It started as a silly dare, asking people to contribute or get a bucket of water dumped on them. It ended with scientists discovering a new ALS gene, known to be among the most common genetic contributors of the disease.
Not all of us can be in the headlines, the first to walk on the moon and such. But we can contribute to making the world a better place. We can serve as ambassadors for our favorite cause, be it social justice, suicide prevention, hunger or arts and culture.
We are inspired to get involved when we are passionate – and being part of a cure for a terrible disease is much more mobilizing than helping alleviate everyday symptoms of patients. Just carrying on with the same old same old does not inspire. Is your non-profit top of mind in your field or geographic area? If not, why not? Are you thinking big enough?
To raise more money, focus on what your non-profit wants to accomplish (e.g. mission goals) to inspire and raise the resources and talent you need to, say:
-end family homelessness in Boston (see United Way of MA Bay & Merrimack Valley IF Challenge); or
– bridge the food gap between abundance and need in Greater Boston (Lovin’ Spoonfuls).
Fall is the biggest and most successful quarter for annual appeals. Make yours a good one and inspire us to do great things!