Non-Profit Fundraising

25 Jan

All non profits depend on various streams of funds to support their overall mission. By their very definition, they rely on different forms of assistance as they work to address different problems within their communities. Since they do not sell a product or service- or at least not enough to carry the total needed to support the operating budget, non profits have to rely on a variety of different fundraising methods.


By and large, non profits attempt to build a solid grant base. With a mixture of city, state and federal grants, many non profits rely upon multiple streams of grants to fund the different programs they operate. Many will have a city grant for one program, a federal grant for another program and use state grants for yet another program. A non profit has to be careful that they do not “double dip”. One example of this might be counting a client receiving services under a federal grant. If client John Q. Smith is counted in your federal Department of Housing and Urban Development grant as receiving services; you cannot count Mr. Smith through your State Housing Finance Grant. The main reason being that the State’s Housing Finance money came from the federal HUD money and federal money cannot generally touch a client twice.

Your program’s mission will guide your grant research. In addition to government grants there are also foundation grants that a non profit can seek. Government grants tend to be more cumbersome and foundation grants– depending on the size of the foundation- less so. There are also significantly more rules a non profit must follow when using federal dollars. It is best to have a mix of grant sources just to serve as a protection for the organization.

Donor Based Fundraising

This is another name for individual fundraising. Regardless of what you call it; this, too, requires research. Often called prospect research, this requires a non profit to determine levels of funding compatibility each donor solicited is comfortable with giving. A non profit looks into the giving history of individuals and then approaches them to seek funding for their own organization. This requires a skillful touch and often, the person responsible for the research is not the person doing the asking. This is a task best left to the Executive Director or the Chair of the Board of Directors. The request is a separate task and may require multiple meetings with a prospective donor. Please remember, the process is not completed when the check is received. It is imperative that an organization foster a continued relationship with that donor. The donor must be thanked and thanked often. This will help a non profit turn a one time donation into a repeated donation.

Corporate Based Fundraising

Fundraising with corporations will vary from corporation to corporation and from business sector to sector. It will pay you to do your research and find out what their community goals are before you approach them. An example of this would be one local international insurance company is actually interested in reducing their carbon foot print. A community non profit rehabs housing near their world wide headquarters. The non profit approached the corporation and with a program related investment in the non profit, the Corporation awarded the non profit a quarter of a million dollars to rehab and sale properties near the headquarters so that employees could purchase homes close enough to work to walk. Do your research and find a way your organization can meet the needs of the corporation before you approach them. Be flexible and willing to negotiate so that the program resembles what the corporation wants but still fits within your mission.

Terry Ford is a fundraising expert who uses an online grammar checker to make her grant applications error free.


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