You do good work. You help the illiterate to read. You put paintbrushes into frail seniors’ hands. You organize programs to solve pressing public problems. You do a myriad of things to make lives better.

Moreover, you often do this work under serious constraints. Too often, you operate in a chronically resource-short environment. You must decide between buying decent office supplies or helping clients.

Nonprofit work is hard. It’s not for wimps. Contrary to what you’ve heard, it’s not government or business jobs that necessitate top skills; it’s the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit leaders need the same abilities as every leader and more. Third-sector trailblazers, like you, work with volunteers and use skills and finesse to ask for donations.

What’s more, despite the challenges inherent in the work, the culture as a whole frequently looks down on the sector. The culture assumes nonprofits lacks the brightest and best.

They are wrong.

Nonprofits gather brave, smart, and ambitious people who seek to improve the communities where we live. Nonprofits collect heroes.

This includes you. Since you do good work and you provide value, you deserve money and resources. In fact, you deserve more money so you can generate more impact.

You chose a noble calling.

The calling requires a noble heart that appeals to the best in people and, for those that respond, the chance to become heroes. However, while you deserve more money, and it would be fair for you to have it, you’re not entitled to it. Your noble calling doesn’t require you to:

  • Beg people to give to you
  • Sell your clients as pitiful human beings
  • Whine about your neediness
  • Build your sustainably on the backs of employees
  • Assume you’re entitled to a gift, grant, or donation

Instead, to be sustainable, you:

  • Refuse to wait for luck
  • Decide to be shrewd and smart
  • Study excellence
  • Develop a sustainability strategy
  • Use innovative twists in your work
  • Embrace flexibility

I started this section with the premise that you do good work. Let’s augment this principle, with a second: you have reason for hope. Sustainability may feel like a big, hairy goal and the concept of thriving, a leap into the incredible. Nonetheless, grasp hope. Believe that, yes, your organization can survive and thrive.

This post is an excerpt from Karen Eber Davis’s new book Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together. To learn more, and to get an additional, free chapter, click here.

Nonprofit Sustainability

Karen Eber Davis
Karen Eber Davis helps nonprofit leaders become revenue heroes. People hire Karen to help increase their revenues by up to 300 percent—what they gain are strategies that improve their organizations forever. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps organizations discover propulsion tools to grow their mission, community, and revenue. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality. Besides Let’s Raise Millions Together, she is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams.
Karen Eber Davis
Karen Eber Davis

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