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Fundraising Basics: How to Get Started

People who work in the nonprofit sector, either as staff or volunteer, do this work because they are committed to a cause. They want to make a difference. If only, I could provide one more meal. If only, I could teach one more person how to read. If only, I could…

Generally, people don’t think about raising money, or raising enough money to sustain an organization. We’ve all heard stories of people funding an organization from their own pocketbook. You cannot do it alone. This is not sustainable, nor is it possible to exclusively fund the nonprofit from family and close friends.

As a part of your nonprofit status, you must follow IRS guidelines. All public charities must focus on fundraising to support their annual operating costs, program expenses and capital projects. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), public charities must be supported by the general public and must raise at least a third of their revenue from smaller donors.

What is fundraising and how can a consultant help a nonprofit? Fundraising is defined as the seeking of financial support for a charity, cause, or other enterprise. A consultant is a specialist in one or more areas of fundraising and can advise on nonprofit best practices and provide support around fundraising efforts.

To serve your passion for helping others without depleting your savings, you and your board of directors, as a team, must embrace fundraising, as you embrace a shared vision to make your world a better place. Building relationships is key to fundraising. Learning how to fundraise as well as understanding best practices, ethical standards, and philanthropic motivations takes time and dedication. There are workshops, seminars, and trainings available for board members, volunteers and staff.

Fundraising basics include having individual donors, organizing events and then increasing efforts for larger gifts. Your best source of donors is your own database. If you don't have a donor database, then put getting one on your list!

What about grants? We’ve worked with many new nonprofits that want to apply to foundations for grants right away. However, most foundations want to see a track record before they will fund an organization. Successful fundraising is built on developing relationships with individuals who trust you and believe in the work you do. So, it’s better to grow your support with individual donors, cultivate those relationships, and develop your programs, so then you’ll have something to share with foundations.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in start-up and smaller nonprofits because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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