There’s just one word you need to know:

How Will IMake USustainable?

This is the process we go through with every nonprofit client of ours, taking each line item on their budget and asking ourselves:

Will this expense help us build long-term sustainability?

In a landscape that may seem to have many lookalikes, how are you going to stand out? When approaching donors, you need professional marketing materials, respect for their time and a clarity in why your mission and organization are unique. But most of all, HWIMUS can often make the difference in getting a YES to your big ask.

When you are approaching donors, you are generally talking to business people. Though you are not out to make a business deal, you still want to present your organization in a professional way, one aspect of which is a sound strategy for solvency.

Show donors that you have thought through a plan for how your organization will sustain itself. You can even ask for funding for this purpose  to help you generate further income. This is often an easier sell, as the donor knows their money will self-perpetuate to continue serving your cause.

So how do you do that?

Let’s take a look at a case study to see HWIMUS in action:

Michael is passionate about providing therapeutic resources to those who cannot afford them. Therapeutic services are a constant drain on money – paying for therapy, referral agents and the like. Michael is totally stuck – just the idea of how much money he will need to raise is paralyzing him.

Michael doesn’t realize that there is more than one way to create such an enterprise, and they do not all include endless fundraising. 

What does Michael really want to achieve with his organization?

He wants to support people on their journey towards mental and emotional health and help them pay for healing services. Paying for their therapy is only one piece of this, and when explored with an out-of-the-box paradigm, (and a good consultant :)), Michael was able to begin finding ways to achieve his dream without tons of cash on hand.

Here are some of the ideas Michael and I came up with:

  • He can run one-day seminars where there are speakers and group support sessions. The speakers can either be volunteers or sponsored one-to-one. The venue can also be paid for by donors (to then generate more income) or it can be rented by using attendee fees. 
  • Michael can charge group memberships. Members can benefit from anonymous group teleconferences where they can support each other.

So far Michael has spent no money at all, but nevertheless, has yet to reach his dream where he will help subsidize therapy for those in need.

  • Returning to our out-of-the-box paradigm, we can apply the One Child Matters strategy, where donors are matched one-to-one with those in need. Michael could match anonymous true stories to donors who want to help specific people on their journey towards health. In this way, there is no financial drain as he isn’t paying for therapy until he finds a direct sponsor. 

Donors approached with this model were more comfortable, as they didn’t feel they’d be throwing money into an organization that may not make it through the year, but rather a sustainable business model serving a cause.


Estie Rand is an internationally acclaimed lecturer and business consultant specializing in helping small business owners and nonprofits bring in more money with less headache. She can be reached at for all your business and nonprofit related questions in areas of marketing, profitability, growth strategies and more.

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