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  • Kristina Riffle Semukete

Fundraising for your Non-Profit

Money, Money, Money, Mooooney! MOOOONNNEEEY! Sing with me!!!

We need money and can not do our work without it. Most of the time in the nonprofit world, it feels like money is really hard to find, and rarely do you find a funder with a money tree. It doesn’t have to feel like you are walking through the Sahara Desert penniless while trying to work for your cause; in 2017, foundation giving raised by 6% to 66.9 billion dollars! Needless to say, money is out there, we just have to use successful fundraising strategies to bring it in! As the director of a nonprofit, I have had successful fundraising events, and I have had extreme failures. I am going to share the more lucrative fundraisers I have encountered as a nonprofit unicorn.

~Storytelling through Photography and Video- It is important for your donors to feel connected to your organization, and a great way to do that is through photos and videos. Make your communication frequent and genuine. When people are drawn to your nonprofit, learn your stories, and feel they can make a difference, they are much more likely to donate or volunteer.

~Gala- If done right, I believe that a gala is the best fundraiser possible for a nonprofit. I have attended galas where nonprofits have raised more money in three hours than my organization has raised in three years. Large corporations and businesses purchase tables for galas and have their management attend. These black tie affairs with four course meals, live music, and a silent auction at a fancy hall are beautiful, worthwhile fundraising events.

~Dinner and Silent Auction- If you are a smaller organization, like mine, hosting a dinner with live music and a silent auction is easier to pull off. We hosted our first annual Italian dinner and silent auction last year. We were able to design a menu with the restaurant, contacted liquor distributors for free bottles of wine, had a local musician, and local businesses donated gift vouchers (hotel stay, massage, meals, etc). We were able to sell every seat for our dinner at our venue and will continue to host dinners in the years to come!

~Giving Tuesday- Prepare a Giving Tuesday campaign! Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. It is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

~5K or FunRun- It seems like every weekend there is a 5k or fun run to support a charity in my local community. There are many websites available for nonprofits to use to host a run- these sites help choose your event location, date, set goals, get permission, plan the logistics, build a budget, find sponsors, promote your race, and register your runners. Help your community get healthy running and raise money for your nonprofit at the same time!

~Sports Tournament- Host a sports tournament at a local field or gym. Have the field or court donated, referees volunteer, and each player pay a fee to play. Each fee counts as a donation to your nonprofit. A non profit friend hosted a volleyball tournament in our honor and raised enough funds to build our school two more classrooms!

~Buy a ________ Campaign- We have been able to purchase chickens, beds, sheets, and holiday meals for our students and families through different campaigns. People love to actually purchase items, so when they see “Buy a chicken for $7,” they are much more likely to donate $7 through the campaign than they are to just donate on a random Thursday.

~Matching Donations- Corporate matches often take the form of employee matching gifts, which means that if an employee donates to a nonprofit, the employee's corporation will donate money to the same nonprofit according to a predetermined match ratio (usually 1:1). The matching gifts help fund even more work. Many large corporations match donations and it is up to the nonprofit to contact the corporations to get on their match lists.

~Penny Drive- Yes! Pennies! Ask local stores if you can set up jars for people to toss their change into. Alternatively, churches and schools can run a wheelbarrow penny drive, where you place a wheelbarrow (or other large container) in a prominent location and encourage passers-by to place their loose change inside until the wheelbarrow is full.

~Text to Give Campaigns- The younger generations love when things are at their fingertips, especially at their phones. Meeting your donors where they are (their smartphones!) goes a very long way to boosting their engagement with your project and mission. Text to give campaigns can be set up through your donor site (i.e. Giving Fuel) and are relatively easy to do so. Once you have text to give set up, it is an incredibly quick and easy way to boost donations through every future campaign or event you host.

There you have it; 10 fundraising ideas for your nonprofit. Use a combination of these ideas to reach your fundraising goals and further your cause. Best of luck; I know you can succeed! Remember, ALWAYS thank your donors! When they feel appreciated and connected to your cause, they are more likely to come back and donate again!

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