What exactly do we mean by infrastructure? And how important is it to your institution’s health?

Just consider: infrastructure is the fuel that makes everything run.

If you are trying to educate kids, heal the sick, feed the hungry, or help the poor, nothing happens without your internal infrastructure. We mean nothing!

Over the years, with client after client, we have seen many struggles about the very idea of spending money on marketing, administrative issues.

Here’s the problem:

Nonprofits have a fundamental dilemma:

You have one dollar. Are you doing to spend it on your urgent mission? Your programming?

For example, your kids need help right now. The water is getting dirtier right now. The sick are in dire need.

Everyone wants to spend every possible cent on your important program work.

And that’s a good thing.

Just one point:

If you don’t spend PART of every dollar on your organization’s infrastructure, then you will never really be able to grow.

You’ll never be able to expand your work to reach more people.

You’ll stay right on the treadmill that you are right now.

Smart organizations understand that they must invest in themselves.

They must build up a strong and effective organization if they want to survive, grow and flourish.

And there’s no choice.

You can either commit to building your organization or not. You invest in infrastrucreu so that you can raise more money and expand your services.

Doing it halfway is not a smart choice.

Capital campaign in your future? Better invest in infrastructure now!

We have seen organizations who wanted to embark on a major capital campaign, who simply not ready. They hired us as their campaign consultants, and we would come in and find disarray.

Usually the biggest problem is in staffing and resources for fundraising. The organization had big plans for raising much more money, too often we would find that we their development shop had been starved. The able staff was working very hard, but they were spread too thin, trying to execute too many fundraising programs at once.

Often we’d find that the donor CRM was weak. Most often we’d find that the staff team did not have the training or resources to understand the CRM and get what they needed out of it.

Why was the fundraising shop in difficulty? Because the nonprofit’s leaders never devoted the time, energy and resources to build up its organizational and fundraising infrastructure.

You don’t want to be “the best kept secret in town.”

Again, we have heard this far too often!  It makes us sad to hear this.

Why would someone make this declaration? Because they know that public visibility of their work is too low. It means little commitment to communications and messaging.

The organization was not willing to make the appropriate investments – and do the hard work – to build up its visibility in the community.

Yes, we know that when you invest in infrastructure, you cannot spend those funds on your mission.

But nevertheless, the CFO’s, CEO’s and board members must understand that a business needs fuel. It doesn’t run on fumes.

Do you want to make a bigger impact? Do you want to expand your work to help more people?

Then your nonprofit needs investment funds for technology, systems, adequate staffing, fundraising, and communications.

As Nell Edgington said so well on the Social Velocity Blog:

Nonprofits will only get better at creating social change if they have a strong and effective organization behind their work.

Otherwise you’ll stay in “the starvation cycle of trying to do more and more with less and less.“

We say to our clients: Don’t carry out your organization’s mission on the backs of your employees.

Don’t be an organization that says:

“We can’t afford to pay competitive salaries or compensate our people appropriately.”

What do these nonprofits get in return? They get staff turnover.

They didn’t want to invest in their valuable infrastructure resources – their people.

Bottom line: Invest in infrastructure to fuel the fundraising machine.  It’s your engine for growth.

You can’t afford NOT to invest in it. Infrastructure is one of your organization’s most valuable assets.

Grow your infrastructure and you’ll expand your fundraising — and your ability to make a long term, powerful impact.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.