Nonprofit organizations often bring in most of their revenue through fundraising (also referred to as development or advancement)
Even if your organization has been raising money for awhile, it is important to have a fund-raising plan. Here are some tips for putting one together and a template.
- 6 Steps to a Fund-raising Plan for a New Nonprofit – About.com
- Develop Your Fund-Raising Plan With Consensus – Fund-Raising Forum
- Resources: Fund-raising Guidance – Society for Nonprofit Organizations
Many nonprofit organizations rely on grant funding. It can be a good way to get a significant amount of money, but grants can be restrictive and the preparation is time consuming. It is also important for your organization’s mission to fit in with the foundation’s mission. Here are some links that will help you with your grants. This includes templates and sample materials.
- Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course- Foundation Center
- Grant Writing- Nonprofit Guides
- Grantwriting and Proposals — How Much to Ask For and Asking for It – Free Management Library
- How to Write Grant Proposals – About.com
Individual donors and annual appeal
Most individuals are solicited through an annual appeal or direct appeal ( if it takes place more than once a year). Here are some ways to ensure that your appeals will be effective.
- Top 8 Tips for Writing a Fund-raising Letter – About.com
- Fund-raising Donation Letter Template – 12 items to Include in Donation Letters – Step by Step Fund-raising
- Donation Request Letter Writing Tips – Fundraiser Help
Major gifts are generally individual donations of $1,000 or more. These gifts require quite a bit of cultivation and input from your board.
- Three Ways to Identify a Major Donor – About.com
- Tips for Cultivating Donors – Third Sector New England
- Fund-raising: Major Gifts – Fund-raising for Nonprofits
- Major Gift Prospecting and Prioritizing – Nonprofit Conversation
Special events are another way for an organization to raise money. They also raise awareness in the community.
- How to Make the Most of Your Special Events – About.com
- Managing Special Event Risks – Nonprofit Risk Management Center
A common type of special event is an auction. If having an event auction is too much for your organization to take on, you might consider an online auction. Here is some information about both.
- Fun Raising While Fund-raising: Nonprofits Embrace Online and In-Person Auctions – Third Sector New England
One way to obtain additional revenue for your event is to secure sponsorships. These can be both corporate and individual sponsors.
- Made Possible By: Succeeding With Sponsorships – a Review How Nonprofits Can Get Corporate Sponsors – About.com
- Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit – National Council of Nonprofits
- The Nonprofit FAQ: Strategies: Sponsorship – National Center for Charitable Statistics
Raffles & legal issues
You may be considering a raffle as a way to raise money, but make sure you are familiar with the legal requirements. You will need to get a permit to conduct a raffle or any other gaming activity. The requirements listed below pertain to Massachusetts. If you are from another state, please check with your attorney general’s office.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Nonprofit Gaming Events – Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
- FAQs about Raffles – Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Online and e-mail fundraising are becoming increasingly popular and can be a more cost effective way to reach out to more potential donors. Remember that not everyone wants to donate online, so be sure your website includes a mailing address so people can send you a check.
- Getting Started with Email Fund-raising – Third Sector New England
- Online Fundraising Guide- About.com
Social media for fundraising
Social media is often used more for marketing than fundraising, but if you are interested in incorporating it as a fundraising tool, here is some more information.
- 12 Tips for Nonprofits On Getting Started With Social Media – About.com
- Four Social Media Fundraising Tools – Nten
A capital campaign is usually conducted for a major expense such as a new building or renovation.
- The Online Capital Campaign Resource – Capital Campaigns
- Manage the phases of your capital campaign – The Nonprofit Times
Planned giving is when a donor bequests money to an organization or invests money naming the organization as a beneficiary.
- Planned Giving – About. com
- Top 8 Things to Think About Before You Start a Planned Giving Program – About. com
In-kind donations are gifts of goods and services. Not all of these donations are tax-deductible. It’s important that your organization keep track of all the in-kind donations it receives.
- Another Kind of Giving – Guidestar
- Sample in-kind contribution form – Corporation for National & Community Service
- In-Kind Gifts: How to Acknowledge and Recognize Them ( This link includes a sample acknowledgment letter.) – Fund-raising Forum
Fundraising in a down economy
Whatever type of fundraising your organization does, it’s bound to be more difficult in a down economy. Here are some ways to ease the burden.
- The Role of Brand in Diversifying Your Fund-raising – Third Sector New England
- Tips for Raising Money in a Recession – The Chronicle of Philanthropy
- Fundraising in a Recession- About.com
- The challenge of fundraising in tough times- Philanthropy Journal
Acknowledging donations is important for two reasons. One, they give the donor a record of their contribution, and two, they serve as an important donor relations tool. It’s crucial that you send a written thank you as soon as possible (within 48 hours). You may also want to consider having your executive director or board members call each donor to thank them.
- Acknowledging Gifts and Contributions – National Council of Nonprofits
- How to Write a Donation Thank You Letter That Seals the Deal – About.com
- Charitable Contributions Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements – IRS
Thanking your donors is the first step in donor relations (also known as stewardship). It continues with frequent communication about what the organization is doing – how you are spending the donors’ money. You may also want to consider holding special thank-you events for your donors.
- Top 10 Tips for World-Class Donor Relations – About.com
- 3 Donor Relations Tips to Freshen Up Your Fund-raising Efforts – ezinearticles
- Building Relationships with Donors- Guidestar
- 5 Tips for Building Positive Donor Relations- Red Hot Fundraising
Fundraising research (grants and individual donors)
Are you looking for ways to find new donors? One of the keys is building relationships. Some of the sites listed below require a paid subscription to search their databases.
How can I learn about researching and cultivating individual donors?– Foundation Center (This link includes prospect worksheets for both foundations and individuals.)
You can access most foundation’s 990 forms on Guidestar.
Having your board involved in fund-raising is an integral part of an organization’s development plan. Some organizations even have requirements for board members to give and/or obtain donations.
- How Board Members Can Become Effective Fund-Raisers – Fund-Raising Forum
- Five Fund-raising Mistakes We Make with Our Boards – Guidestar
Additional Development Resources
- Third Sector New England
- National Council of Nonprofits
- Network for Good
- Catalogue for Philanthropy- The Massachusetts Philanthropic Directory
- Basics in Developing Your Fundraising Plan – Free Management Library
- Fundraising Guide: 8 Steps to Effective Fundraising – Society for Nonprofit Organizations