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Unconventional Fundraising For Non-Profits

Apr 1, 2008
At times, the agencies that should get the most help do not. Nonprofit organizations, such as the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society, need funding to conduct important research that affect millions of people. So, it could be said that their bottom line is the one that really matters because it affects us all.

Although most businesses need to have fundraising events, these events are most crucial for nonprofit organizations. How can an organization raise money and awareness if it is not generating many funds to begin with? While nonprofit fundraising can be difficult, it can help the organization succeed and their cause gain awareness when done well.

One effective way for nonprofits to raise money is through partnering with a corporation to increase cause recognition. Cause-related marketing has been around for a while. Many charities and businesses have partnered together to achieve success. The difference between a mere partnership and a successful partnership, however, is quite different.

In the January 1, 2004, article "Making the Business-Nonprofit Partnership a Win-Win" on AllBussiness.com, Marion E. Gold stated that "the key is to create an environment in which the company's and charity's objectives are integrated to create a mutually beneficial result."

Gold suggested that nonprofits present their partnership plan to businesses in a creative way to clearly explain why the partnership would benefit the community.

"The most successful nonprofits will position their causes as" brands or as products that their "corporate partners want to buy," Gold said.

Gold also said that both sides of the partnership must hold up their end of the agreement, monitor the partnerships results, make the best out of the resources available and ensure that both partners have something to give in the joint venture.

Another unique way to raise funds is to go to the Internet. While many charitable organizations already use the Internet to raise awareness, there may be avenues they have yet to explore, such as social networking, email lists and article RSS.

The May 24, 2006, blog post, "Social Networking for Nonprofits" at Netsquared.org, suggested a few ways that nonprofits can use social networking sites, such as MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, to increase funding and exposure.

Nonprofits can create profiles for their organization with links to their official Web site, write blogs about issues the organization is concerned with and create groups that center on the issues the group works on.

Nonprofits can use the Internet for fundraising in other ways, as well. Starting email campaigns can easily, and economically, reach many potential supporters at once. The September 8, 2000, article "A Primer for Online Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations" by Michael Stein also suggested that nonprofits consider adding their organization to an online charity forum.

"Charity portals are Web sites that offer a directory of nonprofits, of which you'd be one of many. Their job is to attract lots of traffic to their site and encourage visitors to make contributions to the nonprofits listed. Often your listing is free, and the portal accepts secure credit card contributions on your behalf," said Stein.

"Some charge a fee when you get a contribution, but usually there are no monthly charges. These portals make their money either from advertising on their site or through the fees they charge the nonprofit."

Nonprofits come in all shapes and sizes. They can be large like the American Cancer Society or small, like your community's homeless shelter. Size and visibility should not hinder any charitable organization's ability to raise money. So start slow, build power and start implementing simple fundraising mechanisms to get your nonprofit off the ground today.
About the Author
Abbie Stutzer is a graduate student in the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. She currently works in the marketing department at Absorbent, Ink. (Absorbent, Ink: Promotional Products).
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