Fundraising Basics


Fundraising Basics


Diversity in Giving
The changing landscape of American philanthropy

As the United States continues to grow and become more diverse, it’s more important than ever to consider whether the nonprofit playbook is due for an overhaul. Do current fundraising efforts have the cultural competency to reach all Americans who might support nonprofits?

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Is Your Organization READY to Seek Grant Funding?
There's more to the process than writing a proposal!

Proposal Writing Consultant Suzanne Linebarger knows what it takes to win a grant.  She has 24 years of experience in Fund Development and has raised more than $49 million in grant funds for her clients.  If you are a smaller or newer nonprofit organization, Suzanne can help prepare you for grant funding success.

What a client had to say: 

Thank you again for the help and great research. Suzanne went beyond the call of duty and I sincerely appreciate the extra time she spent on our project! 

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Find New Grant Opportunities!
No time to search for grant prospects? Let us help!

Finding funding sources is a constant challenge for nonprofits.  Investment in subscriptions for grantor databases or endless time on the internet can add up to many dollars of limited resources. 

Researching possible funders is not easy, even laborious at times.  If it is not done well, it can result in wasted time and money sending proposals to funders that are a poor match for your program. 


Charitable Solicitation Registration
Tips when fundraising in multiple states

Your nonprofit may be aware of its obligation to register for fundraising purposes in its own state (38 states and the District of Columbia currently have this requirement), but did you know that if your nonprofit is asking for donations from potential donors in other states the nonprofit may be required to register in those other states as well? Here’s why charitable solicitation registration in multiple states may be in your nonprofit’s future, if it’s not already part of your nonprofit’s annual filing routine.

First and foremost, we live in a mobile society. People move.

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9 Online Fundraising Tools

Over the last six months Nonprofit Tech for Good has bookmarked over 50 fundraising tools to prepare for this blog post. When the time came to write the post, at least 25% of the fundraising tools had shut down. It is very difficult to launch a fundraising service that is sustainable i.e., can earn enough revenue to pay staff, keep the lights on, and continually invest in innovation.  That said, the nine fundraising tools listed in this post are good ideas whose time has time come.


Winter 2015 Nonprofit Fundraising Report

Check out this free report here. The study draws on survey responses from the U.S. and Canada. 73% said their nonprofit, charitable organization met its 2014 fundraising goal. This is the best result since the NRC began surveys in 2010.

Arts organizations were highly likely to see gains, but health organizations were less likely than other charities overall to report growth in funds received.


The Philanthropy Outlook
Giving outlook for 2015 and 2016

The Philanthropy Outlook predicts changes in year-to-year growth rates for philanthropic giving for the years 2015 and 2016, including overall U.S. giving and giving by individuals/households, foundations, estates and corporations. Each forecast is provided with a contextual analysis that adds dimension to our understanding of the many factors that are likely to affect giving. – See more.

Download a free copy of the report here.


2014 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report

The Fundraising Effectiveness Survey enables participating groups to measure and compare their fundraising gain and loss ratios to those of similar organizations. Participants can use this industry data, which AFP offers free, to make better-informed, growth-oriented budget decisions to boost donor revenue. Find the 2014 report here.

Resource For MembersFor 3 day trials

Fundraising Compliance Guide
Compliance with State Charitable Solicitation Laws

States oversee solicitation of their citizens. Before your nonprofit seeks donations, it must register in each state where it will be fundraising. Failing to do so can results in fines and other penalties.

44 states and the District of Columbia have charitable solicitation laws. Remember that solicitation occurs when you ask for a contribution (by any medium), regardless of whether or when you receive it.

Compliance with state charitable solicitation law requires:

  • initial registration/licensing (in 40 states + D.C.)
  • annual registration renewal
  • filing annual financial statements
  • including disclosures on donor materials (in 24 states)
  • appointing and maintaining a registered agent (in 4 states)
  • obtaining a certificate of authority (in 6 jurisdictions

The laws, documents, procedures, and costs to obtain the legal authority to fundraise are different in each state. See the information on each states’ requirements.

Helpful link For MembersFor 3 day trials

Endowment Funds – FAQs

What are endowment funds? How do you create one? How must I spend the funds?


The Road to Results
Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences

Based on case studies of 10 arts organizations that undertook audience-building projects as part of the Wallace Excellence Awards initiative, this guide pinpoints nine practices that successful efforts had in common — from identifying a target group that made sense for the organization to determining what barriers needed to be removed for that target to join the audience. Filled with examples of successes and challenges from the work of museums, opera companies, a theater and other institutions, the report can serve as a guide to audience building for all arts groups.


New Mobile App Will Change the Way Donors Give and Nonprofits Fundraise

Partnering with Guidestar and Network for Good, donors can now give to their favorite nonprofits and manage their giving portfolio in one simple, very smart mobile app called the Give App.

Click here for a nice summary of how this new app works for donors and how your organization can sign up to participate.


In Kind Gifts
Getting goods or services as contributions

Many nonprofit organizations receive goods or services as contributions, in addition to cash. These non-cash contributions are referred to as gifts in-kind. Going after in-kind donations is a lot like going after cash—it’s just more fun! Whether your group is planning an event, equipping an office, or completing a project, you should not overlook the importance of an in-kind strategy.

The River Advocates Fundraising Guide offers some valuable tips.


How to Empower Your Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies with the Wonderful World of Data
By Heather Yandow, Third Space Studio

I get these kinds of question all the time: “How much money should I be raising from individual donors?” or “Do you think I can raise $50,000 from individuals next year?”


Those are hard questions with many answers that depend on many factors.

To make answering those types of questions a little easier to answer, I started working to create a set of metrics for small and mighty organizations—those with revenues under $2 million. Over the past three years, this data has helped draw a picture of individual donor fundraising.


Choose the Right Donor Management Software
With help from this handy chart

Choosing the right donor management software for your organization doesn’t have to be complicated. TechSoup has put together a handy chart so you can compare and contrast features.


12 Question to Ask When Applying for a Fundraising Job – and Answers the Nonprofit Should Know

I have several long-term clients who are looking to change jobs. What a surprise: development staff on the move.

I also have clients who are looking for employees. Some have written job descriptions that are more thorough and complex than they would be for the CEO of General Motors.

One lists 26 areas of responsibility and pays $35,000. They want me to find someone. I want to weigh 112 and eat 5,000 calories a day. That isn’t going to happen, either.

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Book Reviews from Grant’s blog!
Read Reviews and Tips from the Center's Library

A few months ago we gained a member whose main goal was to read through our library. 

Since then, they have returned countless times to gain knowledge about the nonprofit sector. 

Grant Garibay of Praxis Collaborations has enjoyed the materials at the Nonprofit Resource Center library so much he has written a review and summary of the tips he learned. 


Top 10 Major Donor Fundraising Trends for 2014-2015

Fundraising is changing!  Everything is shifting these days.  Major donors are still not quite sure they trust you.  Donors are changing too. Post-recession donors really are different!  Are you changing your own fundraising strategies to keep up with donors’ newest attitudes and preferences? 


New Mobile App Will Change the Way Donors Give and Nonprofits Fundraise

A new mobile app has launched that allows Americans to easily donate to any U.S.-based nonprofit in just a few taps. By partnering with Guidestar and Network for Good, donors can now give to their favorite nonprofits and manage their giving portfolio in one simple, very smart mobile app called the Give App.


UBIT: Advertisements vs. Qualified Sponsorship Payments

Unrelated Business Income Tax or UBIT can be a confusing topic.  Here’s an article that helps clarify the distinction between advertisements that trigger UBIT and qualified sponsorship payments that don’t.  Click here to read the article.


Giving USA 2014
An overview of giving in 2013

Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, detailing comprehensive information about charitable giving in 2013 is now available.  Published by Giving USA Foundation, Giving USA is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Learn more about patterns and trends and how they can inform your fundraising. Purchase your copy today or download a free summary at Giving USA.


An exercise to evaluate grant proposals
from the Grant Writer's Toolkit

In December 2013, nonprofit consulting firm, Amanda Johnston Consulting, released their Grant Writer’s Toolkit, an educational resource that provides strategies, worksheets, and case studies for grant writers who are passionate about winning more funding for their organizations. Amanda Johnston is generously sharing excerpts from this resource with CausePlanet readers.

Helpful link

Grassroots Institute for Fundraising

A fantastic source of fundraising support for grassroots organizations

GIFT provides training, resources, and analysis to thousands of groups each year. Their programs include:


IRS Rules on Contributions
IRS Publication 1771, Charitable Contributions—Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements

The IRS’s Publication 1771, Charitable Contributions—Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements explains the requirements that organizations and donors need to be aware of to meet substantiation and disclosure requirements for federal income tax return reporting purposes.

It describes what is required of charities that receive contributions from a donor in terms of written contributions, how to treat goods or services, payroll deductions and unreimbursed expenses. It also includes sample language for acknowledgements.


Investing for Impact
Indirect Costs Are Essential for Success

Investing for Impact: Indirect Costs Are Essential for Success a new report from the National Council of Nonprofits shares substantial research for board members and funders about the need to invest in core infrastructure to have a stronger nonprofit.


The Proper Way to Thank Donors
What the IRS requires

IRS Publication 1771 says that for any gift over $250, the giver must have written documentation of the gift. That written documentation, according to the Tax Court, must comply with the requirements outlined in Pub 1771:


2013 Millennial Impact Report
Engaging the Millenial generation with your organization

The Millennial Impact Report provides a guide for organizations to better understand this generation, immerse them in the cause, and maximize the impact of their interest, time, and giving.

The Millennial Impact Benchmarks represents a path any organization can follow to direct its culture toward Millennial engagement. The system is based on three levels – Millennial Inviting, Millennial Immersion, and Millennial Impact – with ways to help Millennials connect, involve, and give at each level.


Giving USA 2013
An overview of giving in 2013

Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, detailing comprehensive information about charitable giving in 2013is now available.  Published by Giving USA Foundation, Giving USA is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Learn more about patterns and trends and how they can inform your fundraising. Purchase your copy today or download a free summary at Giving USA.

Helpful link

The Fundraising Authority
Tools and information for nonprofits of all sizes

The Fundraising Authority offers new fundraisers a beginners guide and many other useful resources.

Funding opportunity
Modest Needs Nonprofit Grants (Posted 6/14)

Modest Need’s NonProfit Grant allows small nonprofits to appeal directly to the general public for help to afford expenses that will strengthen the programs and services they provide to the communities that they serve.


The State of Grantseeking Report Spring 2013
A snapshot of the current state of grantseeking

PhilanTech and GrantStation recently conducted the Spring 2013 State of Grantseeking, the sixth semi-annual survey of nonprofits to learn about their grantseeking activities, successes, and challenges.

Over three-quarters of respondent organizations received grant awards in the last six months of 2012, and more organizations received larger grants.  Larger organizations fared better than smaller organizations, with both private and community foundations increasing the number of awards to large organizations, while decreasing support for smaller organizations.


Donor Stewardship
How to do it well

Association of Donor Relations Professionals

The article Donor Relations and Stewardship Defined, from the Association of Donor Relations Professionals, outlines the four elements of donor relations: gift acceptance and management, acknowledgement, donor recognition, and reporting.

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A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising

The newly released study UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising reveals that many nonprofits are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. A joint project of CompassPoint and the  Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the report found high levels of turnover and lengthy vacancies in development director positions throughout the sector.


2012 Nonprofit Donor Engagement Study
Understanding donor preferences

NTEN partnered with Charity Dynamics to conduct the 2012 Nonprofit Donor Engagement Study.

This donor-focused study gathered feedback from consumers spanning a wide range of giving levels ($25 – $5,000+) who donated to a nonprofit in the past 12 months. Survey questions sought to understand individuals’ preferences regarding traditional and digital media for donating, volunteering, and engaging with nonprofits.

Among the high-level findings:


The Philanthropic Landscape
The state of general operating support & multi-year funding

Recent reports published by the National Committee for Response Philanthropy analyze grant funding data collected between 2004 and 2009.  They conclude that over this period, the percentage of general support has remained flat at 16% and multi-year grantmaking fell 21%.  Download the full reports.


Insights into Donor Engagement Behavior and Preferences
Why it's important to be your donor's #1 charity

The Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study from charityDYNAMICS and NTEN reports on a survey of the self-reported behavior of 1,022 people who donated to a nonprofit in the past 12 months. Participants were asked how they prefer to engage with the nonprofits they support. The study probed deeply to understand how people preferred to donate, volunteer, and support nonprofits across traditional and digital media.

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We Review – Book Reviews at Charity Channel
Fundraising experts review the fundraising literature

Looking for a book to teach you, inspire you, take your fundraising up a notch?  Whether you’re an expert or just getting started, these reviews from Charity Channel’s fundraising experts can help you find just what you’re looking for. 


The Millennial Impact Report 2012
How Millennials learn, connect and give to nonprofits

Put your assumptions of Millennials aside and read the 2012 Millennial Impact Report to learn about Millennials preferences to connect, get involved and give to nonprofits. Hint: They may be more charitable than you think. For the third annual Millennial Impact Report, Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle & Associates (JGA) gathered information from an online survey of Millennials, ages 20-35, that included 6,522 responses from 14 institutions, three focus groups, and an online survey of 89 nonprofit professionals.

Helpful link

Capital Campaigns
The online capital campaign resource

Capital campaigns are generally considered to be fundraising efforts for major capital purposes, usually to the tune of millions of dollars and, on occasion, a billion dollars or more.

This capital campaign website is dedicated to the discussion of capital campaign fundraising for nonprofit organizations.  It includes sample materials, training guides and articles all related to managing a successful capital campaign. 


How Giving Contests Can Strengthen Nonprofits and Communities

The Case Foundation sponsored a study on how giving contests can promote donor engagement, skills development, and new online marketing opportunities for nonprofits. Read about the results from Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, and learn tips for giving contest organizers and nonprofits that participate.


A Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems

This detailed, impartial 160-page guide from Idealware provides an overview of what the systems do, recommendations based on particular needs, comparison charts, summaries of all 36 systems, and detailed reviews of their top 11 choices: CiviCRM, DonorPerfect Online, DonorPro, eTapestry, GiftWorks, Little Green Light, NeonCRM, The Raiser’s Edge(i), Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack, SuiteDonor, and Talisma Fundraising.

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Eye on the Giving Pledge
Tracking the 81 individuals and families that have signed the Pledge

The Giving Pledge is an effort launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 to encourage the wealthiest Americans to commit the majority of their assets to philanthropic causes. So far, 81 high net-worth households have joined the pledge, making public declarations that are shared on the Giving Pledge web site.


Four Simple Ways to Get Out and Ask
So why don’t you get out and ask more often?

Have you met with any donors this month?  If not, Four Simple Ways to Get Out and Ask will help you do just that.

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Find Your Asking Style
Asking Style Assessment

Are you extroverted or introverted? Do you think analytically or intuitively? Take the Asking Style Assessment and find out your Asking Style. Just 30 true/false questions that you can answer in 2 minutes, and you’ll be on your way to understanding your fundraising style and how to be much more comfortable and effective asking for gifts. 

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What’s the Best Way to Raise Money?
Guidance from an expert

If you are new to fundraising or just want to check your organization’s fundraising strategy this article from Blue Avacado offers some excellent guidance.

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State Charitable Solicitation Statutes
Registration required to raise funds in many states

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have charitable solicitation statutes that generally require nonprofits soliciting contributions and, in most cases, their for-profit fundraising professionals to register prior to soliciting contributions or providing fundraising counsel services.

Helpful link

Online Donation Engine Providers
Compare the options

by Marc Lee, CFRE of Affinity Resources LLC

There is a wide variety of options when it comes to obtaining donations online.


Ethical Fundraising

In the for-profit world, people are hired on commission all the time.  In other words, they are paid a percentage of what they bring in.  In the nonprofit world, this is considered unethical.   These resources explain why.