Nonprofit organizations are in the business of making the world a better place. People who join charitable organizations are, by definition, not in it for the money. As for those who rise to the level of the board of directors, that goes doubly so. Therefore, we can cut everyone some slack if they find it distasteful or embarrassing to ask people for money. In fact, it is common for board members of nonprofits to be especially shy about fundraising. It’s a sign their hearts are in the right place, but they may need some ways to do board fundraising easily.
To that end, here are a few great ways you can raise money for your cause without “fundraising.”
As a charitable organization, you offer a public service, a benefit to your community. If you have any board members who have government contacts or just have an activist temperament, they would be a great fit for advocating for government funding. Better still, getting involved in politics is a good way to serve your cause by getting city and state leaders to acknowledge the necessity of your mission. Metropolitan areas increasingly have development groups that are great ways for nonprofits to network with local stakeholders, as well. Board members may find themselves connected to community foundations and initiatives that would help the organization.
Invariably many, if not all, of your board members have influential contacts. Those among you who are most well connected have a unique opportunity to broaden your board fundraising efforts. Even if your well-connected members are too shy to do fundraising themselves, they can create lists of potential donors simply by listing people to whom they have a relationship. This may be as simple as knowing that someone prominent in the community has an interest in an area of the nonprofit mission, and would be a good prospect for others to approach.
People who donate to your cause want to help. It makes them feel good about themselves and they also derive pleasure from seeing the community benefit. Why not give them a double shot of appreciation by getting in touch with them later and telling them how much their donation helped in the past and how much you appreciate it. It will give them a warm fuzzy feeling, and chances are they’ll donate again. This is perhaps the easiest and most established form of informal board fundraising.
In sales, we don’t only seek out prospects for ourselves. Often times we scout out prospects so that the pitchmen can go out and score. This is a useful technique in fundraising as well. Simply going out and explaining to people what you do and who you help is a great way to generate interest. Most people know nonprofits run on donations. That means just telling people about your organization is like asking for money without actually asking. Just be careful to keep some records of who you’re talking to, and try to obtain some kind of contact information. It may take months of follow-up before they want to donate, but just getting them to sign up for a email newsletter or inviting them to an event can be the first step.
Your nonprofit organization is a pillar of the community. People want to be associated with you for a number of personal and professional reasons. This means you can easily create attractive events that people will want to attend for a small fee or without charge. This gives you a captive audience to explain the necessity of your mission, the good you have done and are doing. It is also a great opportunity to capture some contact information for further follow up. Events of this kind are board fundraising “gimmes” because they strengthen your established connections.
Any business owners on your board may have the ability to offer their services to your organization. By replacing current vendors with those of an in-house member you can reduce the cost of that service or maybe eliminate it completely. Board fundraising doesn’t even have to be about money!
Any vendors that work with you probably mention in their brand messaging somewhere that they “proudly serve” your charitable organization. Furthermore, the discounts they give you are tax deductible.. This gives them an easy way to make regular contributions to your cause, and it doesn’t feel like asking for money. Keep a simple list of services your nonprofit needs, and see if board members can help make introductions.
Be creative when it comes to board fundraising. If you have board members who are fantastic fundraisers, let them do their thing. For those who are less comfortable with “the ask,” hopefully some of these methods will help them contribute just as much to the mission!
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