What If I Told You That You Never Had to Make an ‘Ask’ Again?

May 03, 2021
Mallory Erickson headshot
Mallory Erickson
Nonprofit Coach
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Usually, when there are conversations about money, you hear terms like ‘scarcity’ and ‘abundance.’

A scarcity mindset means that you are holding thoughts and beliefs that there isn’t enough of something. An abundance mindset means that you believe that there’s plenty out there and enough for everyone.

Scarcity holds thoughts and beliefs in your mind that there just isn’t enough money. But abundance means you KNOW there is plenty of funding available to you and every organization.

 More specifically, most funders have scarcity thoughts such as:

  • “These particular donors don’t have the capacity to give.” 
  •  “There isn’t enough money for everyone in the nonprofit sector as a whole.” 
  • “Foundations only give out so many grants. It’s too competitive an environment.”

Why Asking Feels So Hard

When we run our nonprofit from a scarcity mindset, we constantly think of fundraising like this: “we have a need, and that need is money.”

The theme of “needing” something drives your entire fundraising effort. The power dynamic at the table is that the person with money (the funder) has the thing of value (money), and you are the person at the table who needs that thing of value (the money). 

That is why you think that fundraising is about asking. 

Why Good Fundraising Isn’t About Asking

What if I told you that great fundraising is really about offering something?

Would you believe me? Because it is.

As I teach my clients every day, fundraising is really about offering value, opportunity, community, connection, relationships, and partnership. 

Further reading: Spending to scale impact at a nonprofit organization.

An Asset-Based Fundraising Approach: Funder Mapping Framework

Since you just won’t be able to see the ‘offer’ from a scarcity approach, let me introduce you to my asset-based approach to fundraising and relationship building

This framework, found inside my Power Partners Formula, allows you to show up to any conversation with not just what your organization does, but with ALL of the assets that your organization has, and each asset (or group of assets) offers different partnership opportunities for your funders.

First, figure out your assets! When discovering your organization’s assets, think about anything and everything of value to someone else. 

Step two is to identify who needs what to approach the right funders immediately. Another critical element of this process is to understand the desires and needs of different funding entities. Understanding the differences between what a foundation wants, what a corporate partner wants, what an individual wants is critical. 

While each type of funder might be looking for a different asset to align with, what all funders have in common is that they want and need something, and you have assets within your organization to help them with those wants and needs. 

I call this entire process my “Funder Mapping Framework.”

Let’s walk through how to identify some examples of assets together. 

EXAMPLE #1: 

Let’s say your organization holds an extensive donor list.

It could be an email list, Instagram following, or a Facebook following. The size of your audience is an asset both because of its size and because of the relationships there. People on a non-profit’s list have either volunteered, given funds, or both. So they already have a high-quality relationship with the organization, and tons of foundations and companies want access to this.

You can leverage your large audience list into a corporate partnership with marketing departments that help them achieve their goals and help fund your organization simultaneously.

They’re not ‘buying your list,’ but it’s actually a win-win opportunity where they sponsor something for you that places their logos in front of your audience or create an affiliate campaign where they tie in your organization to selling their product. 

EXAMPLE #2: 

Let’s look at a very different type of asset, such as having thought leaders on your board of directors. 

Some companies and foundations want access to thought leaders in a specific area to educate their audience.

 If you overlap in an impact area, they’re the ones who want access to your panel of experts. Maybe the foundation or company you’re approaching will wish to co-brand a panel with your organization and sponsor it as part of a program. Or perhaps they simply want a networking opportunity with your thought leaders. 

Applying this Framework to Your Organization

Did this get you thinking about what extra assets you have to offer? Good.

You have assets associated with your organization as a whole and with each different program element that you have. 

It’s time to start mapping them.

The Asset Mapping Framework

The amazing thing about my asset-mapping framework is that when we start to think about the things that your organization has beyond just your program offerings, there are two things that it does:

1. It helps you identify and align with the RIGHT funders

2. It helps you show up to funder conversations with an asset-based mindset 

Remember that power dynamic we talked about before? This framework completely changes that.

And this is what allows you to show up at those funder meetings recognizing all that you have to offer, instead of feeling like you’re constantly asking. You show up to those funder meetings as your best self, with your best energy, and you are able to find true win-win partnerships as a result.

Plus, asset mapping allows you to see new and bigger opportunities for collaborations and partnerships constantly. 

This simple strategy to leverage your organization’s assets with the right funders will fundamentally change the way you fundraise, and you’ll watch yourself raise more than you ever thought possible.


Learn More About Mallory

Mallory Erickson, a certified Neon One partner, is a nonprofit coach, teaching fundraisers how to bring in more donations without hounding them. Through her signature framework, the Power Partners Formula™️, Mallory provides unique tools to help raise more from foundations, corporate partners, and individuals. 

Want to learn more about my work? Say hi on Instagram at mallory_erickson_coach or at malloryerickson.com/

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