For your small or startup nonprofit to experience healthy growth, it’s important to develop a diverse fundraising strategy.

There’s an old adage about having too many eggs in one basket, and this certainly holds true for nonprofit fundraising strategies. Anytime an organization is majorly dependent on a particular funding source, it is cause for concern.

As a small and startup nonprofit, it’s also true that your resources are limited – staff are highly focused on mission work with little energy for fundraising; yet, we all know it’s essential.

So, how do you juggle multiple fundraising baskets as a small or startup nonprofit?

Create a rollout plan

While it may be tempting to chase every fundraising opportunity at once, it’s important to step back and consider what your team is capable of doing, and doing so successfully.

You can successfully create a fundraising plan that involves multiple sources of funding, and then decide on an appropriate action plan that spreads the launch of each tier out over time. 

For example, there is a lot of startup work that occurs and certain strategies, once they’ve gained steam, can be just as effectively managed with less hands on deck. This means, you’ll finally have the capacity to manage the roll out of funding stream number two.

Regardless of the exact plan of attack, keep in mind that any grassroots initiative – nonprofit or otherwise – takes time to establish, and funding success is not a guarantee overnight. Typically, success takes considerable time and investment to actually reach your targets. The right amount of patience and persistence will pay off.

And, importantly, continue your programming while you continue to fundraise. Donors want to see mission impact when considering any size gift, so to see what you’re up to in real life will make a difference to your funding success.

No need to rely on donations alone

It seems increasingly common that nonprofits are turning to some more profit-traditional opportunities as one of their pillar fundraising strategies. For example, launching an e-commerce store where all sales revenue is used for your operational costs. This model needs to be discussed with a laywer and/or attorney to ensure you are following all related tax and sales laws in your area. This is a great article about raising money for your nonprofit via ecommerce.

Another idea is to consider whether there should be a charge for some of your services. While nonprofits are typically thought of as doing good at no cost, many nonprofits actually charge fees for access – with reduced rates for those who can’t afford. Consider tutoring programs, the YMCA, Boys and Girls clubs and so forth.

Traditional Fundraising Streams

There are many common routes that nonprofits take to generate funds. There is no mix or match of the below that will be a one-size-fits-all winning approach. It truly depends on your team – including paid staff, board members, volunteers, contractors; consider each person’s skills, connections and so forth in determining which streams will be most easily attainable. 

  • Small donors: These are individual gifts from people through crowdfunding, online platforms, and so forth. 
  • Major gifts: These are individual gifts from people generally through built relationships and plenty of nurturing.
  • Events: Be aware that events have plenty of costs and take a lot of time to plan, so you’ll want to be clear about your event budget so you can have the right expectations about generating revenue.
  • Corporate sponsorship: These are requests to businesses and corporations for donations generally based on giving tiers aligned with your mission. Sometimes, these are more easily secured from marketing dollars.
  • Grants: A grant strategy takes some up front work to build. Depending on the funder, some will look for relationship building while others gift more freely. Building a calendar 6 to 12 months in advance helps you stay on top of deadlines. Check out our FREE grants toolkit here, or setup a free session for more info.

There are more funding stream options beyond this list, but rather than continue to give you more to choose from when we’re telling you not to try too much – we want to end with a few tips for success.

How to Grow Your Fundraising Strategy

Find Focus

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be intentional with the fundraising strategy you chose, and to focus on growth of each piece at a time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, because there will simply not be enough food on the table at the end of the day!

Establish a donor database

Record every gift and every transaction, no matter the size. We work with many nonprofits who have little to no historical record of their gifts, yet this type of information can be such an important tool in your fundraising toolkit. Here’s a few examples of platforms that will help you do this: 

Engage Your Network

You are not going to make it if you are doing it all alone! Engage your board members, ask volunteers to come along for the ride and tap into other connections that are interested in your mission and bring value to your efforts.

Boost Your Fundraising Success

Still not sure where to start? Our fundraising team provides the expertise of a complete development department at your fingertips. Sign up for a free session to learn more, or opt-in to our newsletter to receive more wonderful insights like this article.