It’s critical for nonprofits who get all of their revenue from donors. It is the shared passion for their mission that allows them to continue to commit their lives and work to it. If either the donors or those working at the nonprofit were to loose their passion for the mission it would be over. There is a reciprocity that exists between donors and nonprofits. It states that we value the mission and work that the nonprofit is doing, and therefore we support it with our time, energy and finances.
But there are other nonprofits which generate their own revenue. There is nothing explicit or implicit about being a nonprofit that you cannot sell goods and/or services. Many hospitals and health insurance providers in America are nonprofits – yet we all know how much that can cost. An old neighbor of mind ran a nonprofit who provided medical helicopters for a major metro area. Their service was paid for by the medical provider.
Yet, there is a huge problem here. Many of the goods and services that nonprofits provide cannot generate revenue (or not enough revenue to make them financially viable). This isn’t because the business models are flawed, or that they haven’t found a real need to focus on. It is because the nature of providing a ‘public good’ as a nonprofit finds them focused on a work that is ignored by businesses because it is not profitable.
The fact that something is not profitable does not mean that it is not valuable to society. It is not valuable to business, but as a society we still want to have all our children fed, and everyone to have a warm bed to sleep in at night. This is why Fundraising is so important.
Beyond the purely financial motivations for fundraising is the impact that those donors have on a cause. As people put their money behind a nonprofit their focus, passion, advocacy, and time often follow. If you wanted to make a city more bike friendly you need money to cover your expenses, but you also need to build a community to live the life, and be a chorus of voices. There is power in community to change policy, laws, culture, and to do all the things a check book can only start.