04/09/2012 03:43 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2012

Nonprofits: Are You Just Asking for Money, or Sharing a Vision?

Over and over I get calls from frustrated nonprofits because they're struggling financially or not getting on the radar of potential supporters. Sometimes they're uncomfortable asking for financial support, but in most cases, they're not actually so afraid to ask. The problem is, they're asking for money, not sharing a vision. Look at your media presentations, videos, live events, print materials, and in-person contacts. What do they say? What story are they telling? It's not enough just to show the great work you're doing and then ask for money. Perhaps more important, it's also not just about information. You can bury people in numbers, statistics, and graphs, and still not inspire them to open their wallets.

The secret is sharing a vision that people want to support. Connecting with potential supporters means making them feel part of the vision, and clearly showing them what role they can play. "What's in it for me?" may sound selfish, but the truth is, that's exactly what potential donors are thinking. They need to see themselves in the picture.

Stop just spouting statistics about the world's problems and the work you're doing, and then asking for donations.

Start sharing an inspiring and compelling vision about the reason what you're doing matters, and people will embrace it.

Have you experienced the difference I'm talking about in your organization, or with nonprofits that you support?

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