Non profit organizations across the globe have at least one thing in common. Regardless of the type of non profit and the population they serve, all non profit organizations have to raise money in some form or fashion. Depending on the mission of your non profit, you may not have to do as much because you have a product you sale or a service that is paid for. But at some point, every non profit Board of Directors will sit down and determine what sources of funding they want to seek.
Whether at the City, State or Federal level, grants are the bread and butter of many non profits. A member of the staff, generally, of the non profit will submit the grant application to the funding source. This application will be in response to a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and will list the requirements for the application of funds. Federal grants are typically some of the hardest, most complicated grants that an organization will encounter.
Each government grant will be different and will have it’s own set of guidelines. It is imperative that the non profit read the NOFA thoroughly and ensure that they are willing to follow all of the programmatic guidelines should their application be awarded.
Individuals continue to be the leading source of funding for most non profits. It is generally accepted in the non profit arena that “people give to people”, and it is true. Almost 75% of all charitable giving in the United States comes from individuals. It may require some expense up front in gathering the names of people to contact, the time to research donor trends in your community and the creativity to come up with an appeal letter that your non profit can distribute.
For a successful individual giving program, it is essential that people know who you are and what your organization does in the community. What need does your organization address and how is the community better because of your organization? These, and others, are questions that have to be addressed throughout the year and throughout the organization if you plan to be successful in building an individual donor program.
Special Events can be very elaborate- like a golf tournament or a silent auction. Or they can be very plain and simple- like a community day in the park or a recognition ceremony. No matter what event you choose, the main purpose behind a special event is raising awareness of your organization and your cause. Before you can raise funds, you have to make friends. Remember, people give to people and if you make your cause important to others, your organization will become important to them.
Plan your events carefully and make sure the community you serve is represented at the event. If your organization was formed to help restore a troubled inner city neighborhood; have your community day in the park in that neighborhood and invite the residents. If your organization decides to hold a recognition dinner, invite those who have been served by your program. Let the community see your work in action and let them become as invested in your success as you are.