Where’s All the Free Money?
How often do you worry about funding your organization? Do you lose sleep at night wondering how you’ll find the revenue necessary to fund all the activities your organization was created to produce? What steps have you taken to get to where you need to be?
I’ve worked with dozens of grassroots nonprofits that have outstanding missions, with leaders who are truly passionate about their cause. These selfless individuals have incorporated organizations that should provide vital services to their communities. Unfortunately, most of these organizations are continually struggling to make ends meet. Many will fail within the first few years of operations. It happens over and over again.
A common mistake made by the founders of grassroots nonprofits is that getting money will be easy. You are, after all, a charity. So why wouldn’t people line up to donate? You’re a 501(c)(3), so the grant money should come pouring in any time now, right? These are common misconceptions. Remember that you’re competing with 1.2 million other U.S. 501 c 3 nonprofit corporation or organizations who are also seeking donations. There simply aren’t enough altruistic individuals out there who have money to give away. So how will your organization succeed when so many others fail? Start with a solid fundraising plan. Know where you need to be, how you’re going to get there…..and WORK HARD.
Here’s some suggestions to get you started.
- Recognize that strategy is as important here as in the business world….okay, as important as in sports. Planning is critical to successful nonprofit management. Make a plan today, and get to work!
- Make sure your Board knows that they can’t just sit back and vote on a few things once a year. Directors should pull their weight in the fundraising efforts. And they should make a donation themselves.
- Commit some resources to fundraising activities. You have to spend money to make money. Enough said.
- Get help. A 3 member Board with no paid staff can’t do it all. Search for volunteers, expand your Board, and ask favors of your family.
- Educate yourself. There are tons of books and websites with information on fundraising tips and tools. Check them out. Learn something new.
- Diversify. Don’t count of funding your organization solely with one multi-million dollar grant. It’s not going to happen. You should be receiving revenue from a variety of sources- individual donors, corporate sponsors, grants, fundraising products, special events, maybe even program fees.
- Keep records. Any idea who it was that gave you that $20 donation last year? They probably don’t remember either.
- Ask and you shall receive. Be prepared for some rejection, but if you don’t ask, most likely people won’t give.
- SAY THANK YOU!! Nothing makes you want to do something again like being told how wonderful you are for having done it the first time.