Your mission statement helps focus and motivate your staff and volunteers, guide your strategy and planning, and inform your community about how they can help. And a recent survey by Social Solutions reveals funders now see a nonprofit’s mission as the most important factor when deciding whether to fund an organization.
Do you prioritize incorporating your mission into the everyday work and overall strategies of your nonprofit? If not, our funders survey results show you may be missing an opportunity with potential funders.
Let’s dive into why mission has become increasingly important to funders.
Social Solutions surveyed more than 400 foundations, charitable trusts, and corporate giving programs across the U.S. on how they determine their investment strategy. This survey, summarized in our “Top Funder Decision Factors in 2022” report, was largely based on a survey we conducted in 2017. Looking through hundreds of responses to eight questions asked in 2022, it’s clear that your mission should be at the top of your mind as a nonprofit leader.
Here are the takeaways from some of those questions.
What Are the Three Most Important Factors When Considering Funding a Nonprofit?
In 2017, mission was identified by funders as No. 2 among their top three considerations when making funding decisions. Five years later, mission has become the most important factor.
The impact of a nonprofit remains a major funding factor. In 2017, 98% of funders ranked impact as their top consideration. In 2022, organizations’ impact is the third-most important factor in deciding whether to fund nonprofits.
How Do You Evaluate an Organization’s Impact?
Interestingly, when we asked funders how they evaluate a nonprofit’s impact, 20% of funders said the organization’s consistency to mission is the single best indicator of success. In comparison, 34% of funders listed an organization’s outcomes as most important in determining a nonprofit’s level of success.
What is Your Top Preference in Reporting Formats?
And when we asked funders what they look for in reporting materials from nonprofits, program outcomes were closely followed by their mission.
Our findings show that every decision your organization makes should be largely fueled by whether it is furthering the mission of your nonprofit.
So, what happened within the past five years to account for the shift in funders’ focus on mission? We can only theorize, but the major current events within the last couple of years have likely served as a catalyst for this change.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest sparked in 2020 have both reset the priorities of society at large. These events have also brought to light the injustices woven into our systems and institutions and have led communities to rightly call for more accountability from the powers that be. That puts the onus not just on politicians and governing bodies to drive change through their actions—it also puts the responsibility on funders. That theory was supported by a nonprofit leader and a funder at a recent webinar hosted by Social Solutions.
What does this mean for you as the leader of a nonprofit organization?
Seek out funders that align with your organization’s core purpose. The funder at the Social Solutions webinar said that mutual trust in mission between a nonprofit and a funder supports the long-term sustainability of the fundraiser-funder relationship. Building your nonprofit’s impact takes time, but a shared understanding and focus on your mission will go a long way in securing the funding needed to drive your mission forward and create change in your community.
Mission is just one aspect of the funders survey we conducted. Check out the full report for more takeaways.
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