I know we have all heard the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side,” but I recently heard someone say instead “The grass is always greener where you water it.” This is truth! How often are we a little envious of how well things are going for another person, or another organization? Do we stop to think about what things that person or organization might be DOING to have that success?

In working with nonprofit organizations for about 20 years, I consistently hear these types of envious remarks. Almost every organization I have ever worked with thinks it’s harder for them to raise money than it is for anyone else. They have lots of reasons – the other organization has a cause that’s easier to understand, more urgent, more tangible, more…whatever. They see another organization announce a large gift or grant or successful campaign and think, “I wish we could get money that easily.”

But is it really EASY for anyone? I don’t believe that to be true. The best predictor of long term, sustained fundraising success is developing relationships with donors over time. You have to find the people who care about your cause and then you have to communicate what you’re doing to make a difference for that cause. You have to tell your story in a way they can understand your impact, not just your outcomes. You have to thank them for being involved. And you have to do this over and over. Consistently. Like you water your grass.

Every organization has unique benefits and unique challenges. Maybe they are raising money for sick children…but maybe they also have to raise millions every year like a never-ending capital campaign. Maybe they have a strong membership base…but maybe they also struggle to convince members to donate above and beyond membership fees. The organizations that continue to succeed are working consistently to address their unique challenges and develop relationships with donors over time. They DON’T get by easily just because of their unique benefits.

Next time you find yourself thinking another organization gets donations more easily than you do, stop yourself, and think about how much that organization is watering their grass to get the green.