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10 Dec

Fundraising: Fueling your mission for life

Fundraising: Fueling your mission for life.

By Brad Lebowsky, MBA

CEO: Nonprofit Engagement Advisors, LLC

Successful fundraising has many nonprofits scrambling for new solutions. Given our ever changing economy, nonprofit organizations are looking for ways to sustain if not grow financial support of their mission. Traditional fundraising does not always apply to unique situations or economic shifts as we’ve observed over the past two years and will continue to observe for the next three years. 

Some nonprofits will turn to what has worked in the past, their board, their established donors, and many look towards their volunteers. We have all witnessed these efforts produce mixed results in today’s economy. The ability to avoid donor fatigue and adjust to supporters can become a moving target. Hard to predict, harder to achieve growth. The best nonprofit organizations look for strategies that will fuel their mission for life. Let’s first look at some obvious trends that will stay consistent in fundraising: 

1 Individuals Influence Funding

Research shows us that between 69% and 72% of funding for nonprofit organizations comes from individuals. You can go back 10, 20 years and find this statistic to be true. This is more evident today and will be in the future. Individuals will always be more generous and diverse in the way the donate. If your organization does not have a dedicated director for major gifts and legacy gifts then you are missing out on the largest funding opportunity available.

2 Businesses are contributing less than their potential

It has been forecasted that businesses can contribute up to 0.5% of their net profits. Small, medium, and large businesses typically contribute below this threshold. Working with businesses can not only increase your funding, but can provide you access to their workers, their families, and a potential employer match program.

3 Diversifying Revenue Generates Wealth

Speak to anyone who is considered wealthy or knows of wealthy people and they will tell you that maintaining several streams of revenue generates wealth. Many of us have a savings account, a paycheck, a 401K account, and perhaps an investment portfolio. Successful nonprofit organizations should have many streams of revenue or funding that will sustain their mission over time. 

I recommend all nonprofit organizations maintain at least five sources of revenue. According to my experience, there are a total of 16 different revenue sources which include:

  1. Board Members
  2. Volunteers
  3. Online Fundraising
  4. Legacy Gifts
  5. Direct Mail
  6. Major Gifts
  7. Donor Advised Funds
  8. Corporate Giving
  9. Individual Giving
  10. Grants and Foundations
  11. Fee Based Service
  12. Events
  13. Programs
  14. In-kind Gifts
  15. Capital Campaign
  16. Retail/Merchandising

While most nonprofits feel they are leveraged with funding activities,  you may not be allocating the right resources to the right funding activities. I recommend an organization engage in funding activities that are easy to execute. If the nonprofit organization takes on too much or too great of an effort, it is unlikely these efforts will sustain over time. Here are some simple strategies to maximize your fundraising:

  1. Examine your resources, your capacity, and your ability to recruit the right people (volunteers, consultants, or board members) to engage in these funding activities. Once you have collected your resources, as a group, decide which funding activity will be easy to execute. 
  2. If you are having difficulty, start with two or three and gradually work your way up to five. If you have the resources, select five funding activities and build to eight. 
  3. Don’t hesitate to try something new. Research other organizations that have perfected what you want to try and lower your risks with training and a slow approach to bring new ideas to light.
  4. If you don’t know which revenue stream is right for you ask an expert. 
Our economy will constantly change and become less predictable in the near future. The more revenue streams a nonprofit organization can successfully execute without exhausting the team or donors, the more financial stability will occur which will ultimately fuel your mission for life. 

Aurthor: Brad Lebowsky, MBA

CEO: Nonprofit Engagement Advisors, LLC


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