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The phrase vibe attracts tribe is a tenet of the personal development movement, rhyming shorthand for the concept of being authentic in life to attract the right people, energy and future. Old-school moms prefer just be yourself and people will like you, but that doesn’t rhyme and it’s a little hard for shy kids to process. In the business world, brand is the ‘vibe’ for companies, and market is the ‘tribe’ that encompasses consumers, employees and investors. Vibe attracts tribe applies in the non-profit world, too, and it’s the key to growth, community and fundraising success.

Good Vibrations

The truth is, “vibe” is short for vibration and vibrations are energy. Energy, in scientific terms, is the capacity to do work and it can be transformed from one form to another. So, the vibrations we throw out in the world through our beliefs and attitudes, attract the people and resources we need to get our work done. In a world where people crave alignment with their passion and a sense of purpose, it is the charities fully aligned with their charitable mission who will enjoy abundance in fundraising.

Start With Why

Sounds easy enough, since, nonprofits are altruistic, mission-driven and accountable to the community. But organizations, just like people, can lose sight of their goals, fail to set them in the first place or allow egos and attitudes of scarcity to get in the way.  Attracting supporters to a cause starts with the mission, whether it’s rescuing animals, serving the homeless or providing medical treatment in under-served countries.  The charity should primarily be concerned with aligning itself with tribal members who care for the cause. Everyone should believe in and support the mission, from members of the board to the janitor who sweeps the floor. Start with why and the tribe will form itself.

They Really Said That!

It is unfortunate when nonprofits allow pride, ego, and unchecked assumptions to get in the way of attracting the energy and resources the mission so desperately needs. Here are a few discouraging quotes I have heard from time in the field:

“Why can’t we just hire a staff person, I don’t have time to deal with volunteers.” – Program Managers

“It’s the Development Director’s job to raise money, not mine.” – Volunteers, administrative and program staff

“The nonprofit down the street (with a similar mission) better keep away from ‘my’ donors.” – Development Directors

“We just need people sitting around the table who can write big checks.” – Board members

“We don’t have the money to pay our staff market wages. Besides, if we invest in them, they will just gain skills and quit and move to another organization.” – Executive Directors

What we place our focus on grows. What is the organization attracting through these vibes of limiting beliefs and attitudes of scarcity, exclusion, and competition?

How Do You Generate The Right Vibe?

The tribes we join accept us as we are and allow us to offer our time, talent and treasure in ways that fulfill our sense of purpose and honor our passions. Nonprofits can better attract their tribe by exploring answers to the following questions:

  • How do we acknowledge and honor our existing tribe members? Do you recognize the dedication and commitment of staff and volunteers or do you exclude them as “hired help” and inhibit their participation with other tribe members (donors)?
  • How are you acknowledging existing donors? Are you making intentional efforts to know who supports the organization and why or are you only focused on “new donors”?
  • What are the key messages used to invite people in the tribe? Are you leading with message of mission need or have you confused it with the needs of the organization?
  • How do you talk about or engage with similarly situated charities? Do leaders have friendly, cooperative and synergistic relationships or is there disparaging “hater” talk being tossed around.

The four secret ingredients to successful fundraising are 1. Alignment with people who care for the cause or issue, 2- Connecting with these people in two way conversations on how you intend to fix it (Hint: listen more, talk less), 3- Offer up ways they can engage in the work that supports your solution and is meaningful to them and 4- Say thank you.

Be sure the vibe you are extending is one of compassion, purpose and integrity and your nonprofit will attract a growing tribe of donors, volunteers and fans. As these vibrations combine, a momentum begins to build, which in time, leads to greater resources and a mission accomplished.

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