A holy grail of sustainable revenues or a Sisyphean task?
Sustainable revenues. They are the holy grail of of nonprofits everywhere.
Personally, I’ve never met a source of funding that is inherently sustainable.
I don’t care what type of funding you receive — grants, individual donations, earned income, corporate gifts — you have to re-earn each dollar every year.
… even if you’ve cultivated long-lasting relationships for your organization.
… even if you receive funding through your endowment.
Donors move, die or fall on hard financial times.
The stock market goes up and down.
Customers have to be resold or replaced.
When you are the Executive Director or the Development Director of a nonprofit, just like a business, you can’t take a single donor or single dollar for granted.
At some point, at some time, you will have to replace every dollar, big or small, whether committed for the short term or the long.
From the perspective of this former development director, fundraising often felt like a Sisyphean task. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the treacherous king who was punished by the gods by being forced to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. Just as he was about to push the boulder over the top, it would escape his grasp and roll down again. Sisyphus was condemned to repeat this task for eternity.
At the end of each fiscal year, the boulder rolls down the hill again. And you get to start all over raising or earning the money that will come in that year. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve gotten some commitments in advance so you don’t have to start rolling at the bottom of the hill.
But roll you will, again and again and again.