Imagine you knew a psychic whose readings were known to be completely accurate. People sought her out from miles around. You approached her and said, “What is the best way for our nonprofit to raise money?”
She looked into her crystal ball and said, “Actually, I am seeing that you could get money any way you want to. Foundations will help you. Corporations will help you. Poor people and rich people will line up to donate. Government grants can be yours. Whatever you turn your hand to will be profitable.”
How would your organization decide to raise money in this fantasy? You would probably think about what kind of fundraising would be the most in keeping with your mission, and you would likely ponder what kind of fundraising would be the easiest to manage. Weighing these two questions, you would quickly realize that the answers do not always point to the same kinds of fundraising for each of them. Take an overly simple example: having ten individual donors who give very large gifts would be easier to manage than having 1,000 donors. But if one of those donors said she wanted you to do X or did not like that you were doing Y, and her donation rested on your organization changing focus, suddenly the easy management (just say yes and keep getting the money) would run up against your mission.
Not asking what kind of funding streams are most mission fulfilling is the root of many of our social problems. For example, public schools used ...