Nonprofit Founders, New Executive Directors, and Board members have all been asking questions lately about fundraising strategies, where to find donors, and Board giving. I talk to people in Facebook groups, during mentoring calls, and in all other sorts of places. Lately, there have been six questions that keep coming up.
1. I’m the Founder of a new nonprofit. Where do I find training for grants and where do I find grants?
I do like that new nonprofit Founders ask about training. Some people like to be a few steps ahead and a leader should be one of those people. My recommendation is always GrantMagic U’s One Page Proposal course to start. It goes through the ten common grant questions. This training is good if you want to start writing grants or if you want to know what funders look for when looking at grants. It can help anyone who isn’t writing a grant to support a grant writer in getting that grant out the door. It’s a short training packed with useful information. If you want to know how to write a grant, the paid THE ULTIMATE GRANT PROPOSAL BLUEPRINT is the one I recommend. It opens twice a year so seats go fast.
For the question of where do I go for grants, the better question is always how do I get ready for grants? New nonprofits are not ready for grant funding. That is the truth. I turn people away from grant writing services because they aren’t ready. If someone tells you as a new nonprofit they can write grants for you and get them funded, they either are naive or want to sell you services. I was naive enough when I started to think every new organization could get grants right away. As I worked with them, I realized they didn’t have all the documents, outcomes, or understand their program well enough to have what I needed. They would never get funded. And many times I didn’t get paid because they didn’t really have the funding. If you can’t afford to hire a grant writer either as an employee or a contractor, you aren’t ready for grants. I’ve written several articles about being grant ready and I’ve put together a program template that sets you up for grants. The links are:
- 5 Time Saving Grant Writing Hacks and a Bonus Template
- How to Develop a Program that will Make You Grant Ready (and a Free Worksheet)
- Fundraising Strategies to Avoid When You are New
- What You Need to Know Before You Hire a Grant Writer
- Is Your Nonprofit Ready for Grant Money? A How To Know Guide
- Is Your Nonprofit Ready for Grant Money? Pt 2
- The Secrets of the 990: 5 Tips to Using Them In Your Grant Writing
- What is a Grant Readiness Plan?
- What is Grant Ready and How Do You Get There?
2. Where do I rent lists for my fundraising letter?
Renting lists has it’s place and it’s usually with larger organizations who can afford large lists. The truth is that rented lists get about a 1% return rate so the only way they are effective is to rent a massive list. Big nonprofits have multiple thousands of dollars to spend on large lists. Small nonprofits do not.
3. Where do I find rich people to fund my mission?
When I ask a few questions, it’s usually obvious that they haven’t done the small things needed to get average donors. Rich people fund the organizations that they like. It’s a short list and few organizations ever replace the ones on the list. Major gifts is an advanced strategy and you have to master communication and retention of the average donor before you can ever hope to be successful with major donors. It’s a different league.
4. I need new fundraising ideas. What are your best ones?
When people ask this question, they are usually looking for events or activities and not strategies. The thing is sustainable funding, the kind that brings in reoccurring funding, isn’t a new event or activity. It’s a strategy with pieces that together, create funding that you don’t have to work as hard at. It’s not the next bright and shiny thing. Instead of looking for a new event or activity, ask how can I retain those donors I have and create events my ideal donor wants to attend.
5. How do I get my Board to give?
The better question is how do I show my Board the impact of a donation? How can you put in very real and human terms what your organization does to change a life and improve their community? How can you inspire them?
6. How do I find Board members who contribute?
Usually, this question isn’t truly a fundraising question but a working Board kind of question. You start at recruitment. Did you explain to them your expectation of time and service? Are you holding their feet to the fire now? Do they know what to do? Are you using their skills and the things they love to do? Do they know what you want them to do now? Are you expecting too much and paralyzing them with overwhelm? The answer is usually in those questions.
Join Nonprofit Nation’s Fundraising Success Path Facebook group and find out your next step.