Yes, but what do you actually DO?

I came across this article in the Nonprofit Times. It’s not a terribly new theme. Experts have been beating this drum for quite a long time, but I liked the way the point was made with the many examples of nonprofit mission statements that all contain the phrase “alleviate suffering.” Of course, all these nonprofits seek to do that, but the point is that “alleviate suffering” is much too generic a phrase to describe the mission of your nonprofit, especially as the number of nonprofits to which donors can give has grown tremendously. With this growth, nonprofits have become increasingly specific in their missions, even if their mission statements don’t seem to say so!

In my own previous life as fundraiser in the independent school sector, we had our own versions of “alleviate suffering.” Phrases like these littered (and probably still litter) admissions viewbooks everywhere.

  • Educating global citizens.
  • Creating lifelong learners.
  • Building the next generation of leaders
  • Fostering a sense of community

…and so on. No matter what type of nonprofit organization you serve, spend some time on exactly how you articulate what you do. Make it clear. Make it concrete. Make it specific. Isn’t that supposed to be at the heart of the conversations you have with your major donor prospects as you try to present them with opportunities that align with their passions so they’ll stretch and make transformative gifts?

Brandon Ferris
Senior Director of Strategic Services and Fundraising Counsel


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