Essential Tips on Fundraising for Nonprofits

For those who are thinking of starting a nonprofit organization, keeping everything afloat through fundraising is one of the most intimidating tasks involved. Unlike running a profit-based business, nonprofits largely depend on fundraising activities to keep the cash flowing and be able to fund the organization’s projects. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

-      Patience

Convincing donors for fundraising assistance is not a sprint, but a marathon. While the organization might be dynamic, don’t expect the same fast action from the funders. You might have been successful in closing a deal with a donor within a few weeks, but the same strategy might not work for another.

It’s common for the length of waiting to be directly proportional to the significance or amount of the donation. Yes, it can be frustrating, but you should consider the process a deal you have to go through before it materializes.

You introduce your organization, your projects, and submit your proposal for review. Then you wait. These funding bodies need to hear other pitches too, while running their businesses at the same time. If you've done your research well and marketed your goals genuinely, the only thing left to do is to be patient and wait.


-      Persistence

This should be done with moderation, because persistence can quickly turn into aggression. There’s a fine line between the two. Nobody likes being rushed, so don’t put pressure on your donor, especially if you’re expecting the donation to take your organization to the next level.


Weekly email follow-ups should be enough. Doing more might be translated as aggressive and desperate. Making phone calls will work just as fine, since you’re sure that your efforts in establishing that connection with the funder doesn’t get lost in the inbox. The communication should be directed to the organization, not to the decision makers, so personal phone calls and private messages through social media should be avoided at all costs. If you don’t get a response after more than a month, it might be time to let go and focus on other prospects.


-      Relationships

Fundraising is not all about the money. A good fundraising project should also generate opportunities, friendships, collaborations, and partnerships. And this is only possible if you include building good relationships with your funders as part of the process. These relationships are more important than money.

However, building relationships will also take time. It’s normal to be rejected by big philanthropists and foundations during the early years of the organization. Don’t be discouraged. You’ve interacted with them and that’s a start. Think of this as having one foot in the door. It may have been a "no" this time, but future opportunities might be more positive.


-      Originality

To stand out in this digital age, you need to be genuine and different. Remember that there’s a limited resource pool, and everyone is battling it out to get a portion.

Differentiating your organization from the rest can make it unique and therefore more memorable. And being original is a plus when building relationships that can eventually lead to investments and donations. Take a more personal approach on your proposals and follow-ups by sending hand-written notes instead of printed ones. Update potential donors with news stories and photos attached to your emails. These may be basic, but they have the advantage of your personal touch.


-      People

Basically, funders invest in people, not the organization itself. Nonprofits are built on trust, so donors go for great people and great projects with whom they can invest their money, trusting that it will be put to good use.

Interactions with your funders should be characterized by being true to yourself. It should be your passion and dedication to the cause that fuels the organization and all its projects. Keep it simple, and don’t over-exaggerate in order to tell your story, and ask for support naturally. Staying on course and putting your true self out there are what attracts partners.

Fundraising can be a maze full of politics and cultural complexities. You might feel like you’re completely lost in the first years of trying to get your nonprofit organization rolling, and that's normal. Just keep these tips in mind while you go through your fundraising quest and you should be fine.


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