The Nonprofiteer spoke to a very smart Executive Director a few days ago who said, “[Our agency] doesn’t need to be any particular size. Once we accept that we can’t provide services to every one of the million poor people in Cook County, we can concentrate on doing what we do best for as many people as our resources will allow.”
Seven or eight months ago an equally smart Executive Director responded to the Nonprofiteer’s question about the cost of fully funding every financial aid request the agency receives by saying (very slowly, so her listener could keep up), “Not. The. Point. What we have to do is provide what services we can while building public support to repeal the Hyde Amendment,” which prohibits public funding of abortions.
So here’s the problem with trying to be a fundraising consultant and a strategic planning consultant at the same time: it’s easy to forget that certain strategic questions cannot be answered with fundraising. A provider of legal services doesn’t need to grow its private funding base nearly as much as it needs to prick the conscience of the Congress to supply public funding for the defense of poor people’s legal rights. A provider of abortion services doesn’t need to find patrons who will pay for abortions nearly as much as it needs to restore reproductive health services to parity with other kinds of medical care in the public mind, and therefore in the public fisc.
More succinctly: from a strategic standpoint raising money matters, but raising consciousness (and/or hell) matters more.