How to Fund Raise for a Nonprofit

Not matter what is going on in the economy one of the most complicated parts of working for a non-profit organization is fundraising.

Fundraising is the act of soliciting donations from donors – the donations that will help you carry out the projects and programs. In many small non-profits, every staff member is somehow involved in the fundraising process. Specific staff members and departments devoted to fundraising are referred to as “Development”. No matter what official role you have in your nonprofit job, it is a good idea to understand how to raise funds for a nonprofit.

There are three major types of nonprofit fundraising: Individual Donations, Foundation and Government Grants, and Corporate Partnerships. Some organizations also have membership, or other earned income funding that is slightly different. Virtually all types of nonprofit fundraising also involves special events like charity auctions, cocktail parties and athletic events like 5k or 10k races.

Individual Donations

Individual donations come from people who are interested in your cause or programs, and are willing to donate. Individual donations can be as little as $5, and as much as $5,000,000. Most individual donations are collected in something called a “campaign”. Fundraising campaigns are typically conducted annually and have some sort of theme or concept that encourages people to donate. Individual donation campaigns should have a target total fundraising goal, and donors and potential donors should be kept constantly informed of progress.

And important part of accepting donations from individuals as nonprofit organizations is saying thank you. You’d be surprised at how far a simple Thank You note or email can go to not only make your donors feel good about their choice to fund your organization, but donate again!

There are a number of easy ways to accept donations online that will help you keep your overhead costs down. Paypal and Google Checkout have programs that allow nonprofit organizations to accept donations online without paying fees. There are a number of other services that can provide more specialized online donation service as well. NTEN , the nonprofit technology group, has a great website with articles and recommendations about accepting online donations.

Foundation and Government Grants

Most not-for-profit organizations receive the majority of their funding from foundation and government sources often referred to as “Major Donors”). More often than not, organizations apply to these foundations and government agencies for funding under a specific grant program, and must submit a proposal to be considered for a funding award. Applying for foundation and government support in this manner is called grant writing.

Foundations and government grants are a great way to gain recognition from community and national communities; there are also many networking opportunities available through foundations and government agencies. You can learn more about the process of fundraising through grant writing on another page of this section.

Corporate Partnerships

Many major local and national corporations participate in charitable activities (sometimes known as Corporate Social Responsibility). The activities usually focus on a particular interest area, like Coca Cola and their funding of educational initiatives, like the Coke Scholarship. Non profit organizations can create partnerships with these corporations that are a lot like foundation and government grants, but often involve more than just funding. A corporate partnership for a nonprofit organization can lead to publicity for your cause, donations of supplies, or event sponsorship. Corporate partnerships are important to non profit organizations that are looking to diversify their funding base through sustainable partnerships.

While there are many fundraising activities that non profit organizations participate in to support their programs and activities financially, it is important in your nonprofit job to be aware of these main three types, since you never know when you might be called upon to participate in the nonprofit fundraising process!

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