Funding the Mission with Key Nonprofit Strategies
Posted on April 6, 2016
Nonprofits are known for providing public benefits like feeding the poor, training the jobless, giving out coats in the winter, delivering hot meals to the sick or elderly, providing shelter after a catastrophe, and countless other noble efforts. Often nonprofits are run by individuals who mission is to provide a better and safer place for those who can’t always provide for themselves. Their heart is in the right place but unfortunately good intentions are not the only element required for a nonprofit to remain open providing public services.
A nonprofit, like any other organization, requires resources. These resources can be grants awarded by a private foundation, a public agency, or even an individual donor. For a nonprofit, the bottom line usually amounts to fundraising. There are many ways for a nonprofit to get attention to fund their mission. Here I list the top four (4) ways for a nonprofit to get money it needs to fund its mission.
Apply for grants – these can be grants issued by governments (of all levels), private foundations, as well as corporations. This involves a formal process of responding to RFP (Request for Proposal) or the nonprofit may proactively send a LOI (Letter of Intent). There are many sites dedicated to applying for grant funding but the most common government site is Grants.gov.
Hold a fundraiser – this can be in the form of a 5K run, a dance-a-thon, an annual gala event, a golf outing or anything deemed relevant to the nonprofit’s environment and/or potential donors. Although holding a fundraiser event can involve an upfront cost several well-planned events each year could be a good source of annual revenue that can supplement other activities. In addition, networking with local organizations could create donated resources (e.g. food, a venue to hold the event, entertainment, or items to raffle).
Send out pledge invites to existing or “borrowed” donors. The annual pledge drive (usually targeted November through December) is when the nonprofit contact donors from their mailing list for donations. This is great source of revenue but this activity should take place throughout the year, not just in the last few months. In addition, many nonprofits are partnering with other nonprofits allowing their email lists to be “borrowed”. This means the nonprofits send out an introduction of their cause to each other’s donors. This is a good way for the nonprofit to grow but also a great benefit for the donor to learn about the mission and services of other nonprofit organizations.
Become a social media bandit. Nonprofits are building an active presence on different social media websites. A big appeal of social media is the large number of potential donors and the fact that it is usually free. More and more nonprofits are not just passively putting a page on social media but they are actively engaging donors and prospective donors. Although active participation can require some effort (e.g. writing content, uploading content, and responding to comments) it can be a very cost effective way to get the word out about the nonprofit mission and services.
If your nonprofit haven’t done these things as of yet I do encourage you to implement most, if not all of these options. If you are not leveraging these strategies share what has worked for you. How are things progressing at your nonprofit?