I’m hard at work on a fundraising plan and prospects for Idealware, and it’s interesting going. There are a number of good possibilities and compelling ways to pitch the important work that we do, but it’s not an easy sell. It’s the bizzaro version of what they tell you in fundraising workshops: Idealware offers nearly everything that foundations don’t like to fund, all rolled up into one neat little package. It’s got it all:
- It’s about infrastructure. Unfortunately, software doesn’t actually feed hungry people. It can only make it more efficient to feed them. Word has that it’s hard to interest some funders in these kinds of infrastructure expenses. And worse, Idealware is kind of a meta-infrastructure project. It’s infrastructure that allows other organization’s infrastructure to be more efficient. Yikes.
- The end goal is a technology product. I hear that not all funders get things like websites or software packages yet, and the power they can bring. They’ve had difficulty with technology projects in the past are still nervous about internet stuff based on the dot com bubble. Though Idealware is at its core not about building a website, but rather about writing reviews which are then distributed through a website.
- It’s an editorial model. Again, it’s indirect. It doesn’t directly make things happen, just suggests that things should happen with the hope that it will create change. Not as glamorous as hands-on stuff.
- It helps nonprofits across many sectors at once. You’d think this would be a good thing, but several people have mentioned to me that it’s a classic Prisoner’s Dilemma situation. If Idealware isn’t useful specifically and primarily to a funder’s target audience, it’s not as high priority as something that does target them directly.
Honestly, the project has so many of the key funding challenges that perhaps it can be a selling point: “Look, if you think it’s a good idea, you better fund it, because who else is going to do it?”
Of course, it will probably work better to focus on the positive stuff. Software can revolutionize nonprofit work – by increasing innovation, information, and effectiveness– if nonprofits know how to put it to use. Idealware allows nonprofits to find the kinds of software and the specific products that can best help them achieve their mission. Sounds pretty useful, huh? C’mon, you’d fund us, right?