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Jastine Lumbres
by Jastine Lumbres

7 Ways To Fund Your Nonprofit

Finding income for your nonprofit. 

Providing stability and ways to sustain your nonprofit can be difficult, let alone figuring out how to do it. Listed below are some ideas we think may help in funding your nonprofit. Every nonprofit is different; take these funding ideas individually or together, along with our own list of marketing strategies to create the best funding plan for you.

1. Product and service sales.

Charging a fee for products provided or services rendered is an income option for you if they are things your nonprofit offers. Take Meals on Wheels, for example, who charge a small membership fee for bringing nutritious meals to seniors so that they are not left neglected or hungry. Consider if this is a possibility for your nonprofit, but do your research and keep your clients in mind: Will they be willing to pay the price you’ve set? Also bear in the mind your projected revenue and have another plan in place to provide more funding, perhaps using one of the other ideas that will be discussed next.

2. Cause-related marketing.

This a two-for-one option in that it blends marketing with funding for your nonprofit. It is built upon a partnership between your nonprofit and a for-profit/business where your organizations team up to raise money for your cause. Follow the example of Kmart’s campaign with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, which encouraged customers to make a donation when they reached the register and take note of Uber and No Kid Hungry’s campaign called Share Our Strength, which gave Uber riders an opportunity to make a $5 donation to feed children in need.

Another very impressive example can be found in Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Their entire business model is based on cause related marketing, which earns them roughly $36 million per year, $1 at a time, according to Charity Navigator. We're sure that if you've walked into a Costco, Sam's Club, or Rite Aid at any given time, you'll have seen their Miracle Balloons displayed. They have made that much of an impact with their campaign.

3. Sponsorship.

Partner up with a business or other for-profit organizations. Through their sponsorship, your nonprofit can gain in-kind donations and gifts such as furniture, office equipment, marketing advice, or website development support, to name a few. In exchange for their sponsorship, your nonprofit can offer them a number of ways to show that their business has been giving you support such as putting their logo on your website, displaying their logo at your events through banners or on t-shirts, or giving them an honorable mention on your blog and social media platforms.

4. Corporate giving.

There are many programs at the corporate level available to nonprofits; here are some we recommend…

Pro Bono: Make use of possible connections through people who work with your nonprofit and their trade. There may be an opportunity to get some assistance with an aspect of your nonprofit from an expert at a low cost, such as marketing advice from a consultant or fundraising help from an event planner.

Community-Based Fundraisers: Think locally; look within and outside your nonprofit to connect with local businesses to create a fundraising program, like with a local clothing boutique to donate out-of-season clothing to a shelter or halfway house.

One Day Events: Work with a local corporation to host a one day large scale event where the corporation’s employees can volunteer their time and services. If planned and executed well, corporations are usually willing to contribute funding to your event and your nonprofit can not only benefit from the manpower but also gain new supporters to your cause.

Product Donations: Consider your nonprofit’s operational resources and take into account what materials you may need in the months ahead. If your nonprofit rescues dogs, for example, local food businesses or pet stores may donate dog food or collars as opposed to cash.

5. Grant funding.

Although most of your nonprofit's funding should come primarily from fundraising and donations, grants can offer supplementary income if it is suited for your nonprofit. Keep in mind that securing grants for your nonprofit can be a lengthy and stressful process and it is not guaranteed every year. If your nonprofit is interested in pursuing grants, here are the different kinds of grants we think you should know about...

Public Charities: This kind of foundation calls upon the public, from the individual to the corporation, to gather money to provide grants which are then distributed among nonprofits. The most recognized of this would be United Way, who has done programs such as partnering with the NFL to promote health and awareness for children and working with FamilyWize Community Service Partnership to give medicine to those who cannot afford it.

Community Foundations: Locally based, this type of foundation gathers donors together to serve a particular community with permanent funds (or endowments), which are usually limited to the conditions set by the donors.

Family Foundations: These come in all shapes and sizes and are headed by members of a single family who are charged, usually as a trustee, to manage the foundation by giving to either a local nonprofit or another organization/cause the foundations feels is deserving.

Private Foundation: At this level of giving, the foundation can come from a variety of sources, such as a family, an individual, or a corporation. It is its own entity with its own governing body of private donors who make the final decision in giving.

For more information and for some help finding grants, we recommend you take a look at Foundation Center and Grant Watch.

6. Donations.

With all of the various income options available to your nonprofit, donations still reign king in bringing revenue to your organization. Donors are now easier to access through modern technology, making monthly giving and peer-to-peer fundraising more efficient. With individual donations making up over 70% of revenue in nonprofits, the ante has now been upped with the evolution of online giving, which has made it easier to not only attract donors, but enable them with an even easier way to give.

Increasing online donations can be challenging, but keeping focus on your e-newsletter strategy and making sure your donation page is branded will make a big difference in accomplishing that donation increase. When considering what donation platform would be the most useful to you, we recommend steering away from a platform like PayPal, which may not be as suited for your nonprofit as it is more business/for-profit based. We recommend Giving Fuel, as it allows for custom branding, is free for the first $5,000 you collect, and was constructed specifically for nonprofits. If that's not your tune or if you want to know what other websites are out there, we know of a few others that we think we should consider.

7. Fundraising.

Just like donations, fundraising plays one of the largest parts in funding your nonprofit. It is a tried and true option that has the ability to bring in new donors and supporters for your cause, build mailing lists, and help your nonprofit gain exposure. Fundraisers, as with most things within your nonprofit, will take time, planning, and a lot of work. So when organizing your fundraising events (i.e. sales, tournaments, festivals, walk-a-thons, dinners, auctions, etc.) be sure to utilize your connections with local businesses and other like-minded organizations, start your planning early, and be sure that those in charge are ready and willing to take the event head on.

Side note: Ever heard of Google's nonprofit program?

Did you know Google provides nonprofits with $10,000 per month in free advertising credit? This program is known as Google Grants and it's available to almost every 501c3 nonprofit organization. Learn how we can help you get the most out of the Google Grant program. Click below to get started!
There's a smarter way to do Google Grants.

Jastine Lumbres

Jastine Lumbres
Jastine is Elevate Click's first content writer. She received her BA in English from UC Riverside and Master's in English degree from Claremont Graduate University. She currently lives in Rosemead, CA with her family.

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