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Nonprofits will have to work smarter and appreciate small wins in 2018.

The other day, I heard an older man say to his wife, “chicken dinner!” after he had negotiated an affordable price for a car. I’d never heard that saying, so I asked him what it meant.

What he told me made me think that "chicken dinner!" might be helpful to nonprofits as we head into 2018. He didn't mean a literal sit-down-and-eat chicken dinner or even the money to buy it. What he did mean is that the call out “chicken dinner!” after a little good luck recognizes a bit more of a good deal than was expected, a happier outcome or just some unexpected, modest good fortune. Chicken dinner is more than a meal. It’s comfort food to many and a symbol of home and family.

Herbert Hoover’s campaign promise of “a chicken for every pot” speaks to the idea of a chicken dinner as a symbol of prosperity and economic growth during the Great Depression.

Nonprofits may be entering a depression of our own. We are all are hearing about the potentially dire consequences for nonprofits and charities of the recent tax overhaul. Pundits predict we will see (and feel) the negative impact of almost certain reductions in middle-class donations to social services and faith-based organizations.

So, where can we find good fortune in this turn of events? Frankly, there are none. No chicken dinner in this news. Nevertheless, nonprofits are staffed by the most hardworking, passionate and inspired people I know. Nonprofits can and will increase their diligence, creativity and success in finding and keeping new donors, even in these troubled times.

We’ve been here before, as recently as the Great Recession of 2008-2010, when we all tightened our belts, managed to work harder and smarter than ever before and many survived the loss of revenue across many funding streams.

To put lipstick on a pig, we might look at the tax overhaul as our opportunity to remember to be especially appreciative of the gifts we do receive. Too often, nonprofits fail to be appropriately thankful to our donors and less than informative regarding the exact impact of donor dollars. We don't always look at fundraising as a dedicated and deliberate business that must appeal to both the hearts and minds of our potential and engaged donors. This is our unexpected opportunity to improve.

To keep delivering mission, it’s time to get even more serious about our fundraising processes and practices (although I know we are already trying.) And don't forget to recognize the wins, both big and small. Stopping a moment to be grateful might give us the heart to continue and benefit our donors, as well.

Chicken Dinner!

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MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.




Co-founder and CEO of MissionBox, founder and president of MissionBox Philanthropic Fund, founder and past CEO of Community TechKnowledge