A membership scheme allows you to bring together all the people who are interested in what you do, while also providing an important fundraising backbone for your program. If you don’t feel ready for a fully fledged membership option, a 'friends-of' program can do much the same job.
The major advantage of this source of money, unlike one-off funding sources like grants, is that it can be used on an unrestricted basis for general operating funds rather than for individual programs.
How much is membership to your organisation going to cost? Make sure what you charge is commensurate with what you are willing to offer to members.
Make sure it also covers the cost of any of the membership benefits they are getting while still providing you with a good revenue stream – profit margins are important. In return for their payment, members will expect to receive something in return. This can be in the form of freebies, benefits or discounts.
Fundraising through selling products
Try to work out what is the market rate for your expertise and experience and ability to provide workable solutions and advice, and who might be willing to pay for it. Many not-for-profit organisations charge as little as they can for their services. This is often for very good reasons – they may be serving a community of people who have little ability to pay, for example. Still, it can be worthwhile asking yourself whether or not you could be charging for your services, or at least some of them, or at least for some people.
Most community groups have some assets - an office, or vehicles, such as a bus or a work van, or equipment. Make a list of everything you have. This includes your building, regardless of whether you own it or are renting it. Also list what’s in the building – rooms, whiteboards, car parking spaces, the playground out the back. The next step is to list who might want to use these assets. For example: Can you rent your office, your computers or your equipment to other community groups when you're not there?
Product fundraising – buying bars of chocolate, mugs, lamingtons, tea-towels, socks etc. from a wholesaler and selling them on to your supporters – is a fundraising staple. But there are a few traps for beginners that you need to be aware of.
When preparing to launch a product-based fundraising campaign it’s important to remember that there are many more options than the handful of groups who specifically package and sell goods for not-for-profit groups to re-sell. Almost any business will be happy to have your people sell its goods for a commission, particularly when you tell them it’s for a good cause. Round up a few members and have a focus group and see what's going to sell best. Do this before you start thinking of what you can get cheap. Try to get your product as cheap as possible, buy in bulk. Add value - ask people to buy another product and sponsor it to someone else. A competition around your product is also a good way to sell.
Sponsorship is a win-win opportunity for both your community group and the sponsoring organisation – sponsors will provide you with money to help put on your event, while you provide them with a great advertising opportunity. To secure a sponsorship deal it is usually best to look for a local business you already have a good relationship with – what business connections do you already have among
your membership base? It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as free money. Sponsorship is about both your needs and those of the sponsor, and the relationship simply won’t work if it is slanted one way more than the other.
There’s no such thing as free money - Sponsorship is not just about your needs, it's also about the sponsors’. It won’t work if the relationship is too lopsided one way or the other.
Look for a good fit - Do your very best to gain sponsorship from companies, organisations or brands that seem a natural fit with your event or organisation. It’s exhausting to have to be continuously trying to ram a square peg into a round hole.
It's a job for a team - Be sure your whole organisation understands why sponsorship is important to you and is prepared to treat your sponsors like marketing partners.
Get started early - Don’t count on starting your sponsorship search one day and getting it all under way the next. These things take time (sometimes a very long time). Allow plenty of time in your forward planning.
Get it in writing - Firm up all details of your arrangement in writing. That way no one is left in any doubt as to what has been agreed to.
Aim high - It's better to get one or two big, meaningful sponsorships in place than lots of small ones. There's less clutter for them, and less sponsor management for you.
Allow time for relationship building - Don't ever think that once you've got the cheque your job is done. As with most things in fundraising, sponsorships are all about the relationship. You need to be in regular contact, you need to give thanks where it’s due, and you need to ensure that you’re always doing what you said you’d do.
Initiatives such as Foodbanks rely on regular donations to continue helping people in need. Raising awareness around these types of initiatives is very important. Making people aware about what is needed as well as the difference their contribution has made sits at the heart of these projects.
In this technological age, ignoring online fundraising means you are ruling yourself out of an ever-increasing slice of the funding pie. The good news is it costs your group little more than a bit of time and effort to get started.
Give a little - an initiative of Spark NZ, is an online donations service that is offered to New Zealanders, regardless of group size, purpose or tax status. It charges 5% commissions for processing donations and passes on the rest of donations to your group. Put simply, it allows any group with a bank account and motivation to take advantage of this important method of fundraising.
By their modern definition, charities are organizations that provide help to those in need. There is no requirement they be solutions-oriented which might be the reason for repeating the "same-old-same-old" methods of fundraising.
Nonprofits need an organisational willingness to take risks, be opportunistic and be uncomfortable with uncertainty if they want to follow an entrepreneurial fundraising method. There may be no clear path to the needed philanthropy.
Fundraising from a social entrepreneurship mindset invites donors to invest in the organization’s unique solutions to the problem. When applied to making the ask, it’s an approach that requires no negative drivers (like guilt) to produce a gift. Instead, it presents the opportunity for fundraisers and donors to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement supported by whatever unique combination of self-identification, social identity, impact philanthropy, justice motivation, and other drivers the donor deems important.
In a world of seemingly limitless choices for donors to have impact, many will demand at least some elements of social entrepreneurship be reflected in your approach to fundraising and donor engagement. It’s a fantastic opportunity to move from the drudgery of traditional charity fundraising to a value exchange where everyone truly benefits.
Grants are ideal if you have a project you wish to get funded. Tens of billions of dollars in grants funding is provided each year. However, you need to be clear about what you want and how the grants process operates in order to ensure your organisation gets its fair share. A common mistake is for a group to assume they can simply get a grant for that new computer or piece of technology. Grants are rarely given for objects. They are usually given to groups who agree to carry out a specific project or program. Remember this when making applications.
Tens of billions of dollars in grants funding is provided each year. The trick is to make sure your organisation gets its cut.
The first and most important thing to know about grants is that they are generally given for projects or programs, not for your core funding – wages, administration costs, etc. are almost always excluded unless these are part of the project or program.
Grants are generally tied funds, while money you draw in from membership fees, fundraising events or sale of products can be used any way your organisation wishes.
Relying on grants alone for your continued existence will put your organisation into a precarious position, reducing your flexibility and increasing your vulnerability to a sudden change of direction by a previously reliable funder or funding source.