do great nonprofits suck at fundraising?

March 24, 2015

In our ongoing thinking about effective models for creating and financing social change, we realized recently that many of the nonprofits we’ve seen held up as examples of successful fundraising programs are not necessarily the groups we associate with having the greatest social impact. (Sorry, charity:water).

This led us to informally query a few of our colleagues with a simplequestion: what organizations do you think both create meaningful social impact
and are really good at fundraising? To our surprise, no one could think of a
single group. In fairness, it was a quick poll, so I assume there are some
groups out there that do both well. But it did get me wondering whether there might
be a tension between doing really transformative, transparent social change work
on the one hand and appealing to donors on the other. Are these two skill sets
somehow in tension with one another? What are the tradeoffs inherent in
pursuing one over the other?

This is a theme we’ll be
actively looking at over the coming months. And it’s one I hope a new
initiative underwritten by the Haas, Jr. Fund seeking fundraising
bright spots
will also consider. We are excited for the field to learn more
about what actually works in fundraising, but we’re even more excited to learn
how organizations can be really effective at both fundraising and changing the

this post brought to you by team member: mike berkowitz