In a recent workshop for nonprofit leaders, one of the speakers (John Donovan) advocated that the participants consider raising their social capital before embarking on a journey to raise financial capital. By this, he meant that nonprofit leaders needed to volunteer and be present in the community – outside of events affiliated with their own organization.

Many of the nonprofits were small organizations and may have only one or two people on staff so being engaged in more than their own events seemed daunting. But visibility pays dividends down the road – in connections, influence, awareness and ultimately in donations. A large part of raising capital comes from relationships, which in turn creates trust, which eventually creates an opportunity for collaboration, potential volunteers, and resource sharing.

Assess how you amass your social capital with as much intention as you do financial resources. Are you visible outside your organization? Do you have connections with the right people/organizations in your community? Are there gaps that you should close through visibility or involvement in other activities? Have you encouraged your staff to build the organization’s social capital through their networks?

Not everyone can provide financial contributions but most people have the capacity to give in other ways. Leverage those connections to advance the mission of nonprofits or to help your for-profit organization become a leader in the community. Individuals and organizations alike can “do well by doing good.”

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