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Using the Best Resources for Your Non-profit Organization

Aug 17, 2007
Knowing who the sources of money are likely to be for your non-profit, you will want to figure out how to contact the largest amount of them most effectively. You will of course want to know where to find the donors that can help your group succeed. There are several ways to get in touch with the groups and people who can help you:

The library: Well before you start your fundraising efforts, you will want to frequent your local library. Your local library, as part of your community and a great information resource, is indispensable for your non-profit. Your librarian can help you find directories of government grants and programs that can help you, and can show you business directories that can help you find companies who may be willing to sponsor your non-profit.

Advertising: Many non-profits will seek donors by advertising in newspapers, on radio, and on television. Larger non-profits such as the United Way will often advertise year-round in order to encourage donors to come forward. However, even smaller non-profits will advertise locally.

You may well have seen your local food bank or shelter advertising for food and cash donations around holiday time, for example. Advertising tends to reach lots of people for the cost of one ad, even though individual ads in newspapers and radio can be quite expensive on their own. However, some non-profits find that they can sometimes appeal to a radio or local television station or publication to advertise for free. Even though the media makes their money through advertising revenues, they are occasionally persuaded to offer free advertising as a charitable contribution to a non-profit.

Plugging into the Community: Most small non-profits are very community oriented - most of their money and most of their charitable activities are centered on one local area. If this describes you, then you need to become a part of your community so that donors in your area will become aware of your group.

When people see that your group is offering something to the community, they may be more inclined to donate. Plugging into the community may mean showing up for local events with group advertisements, taking out ads in local media, or passing on the word through word of mouth. Whichever methods you choose, it is often very important for a small or starting non-profit to be seen as part of the community in order to secure donations.

Direct Appeals: Direct appeals mean that you approach people individually. This can be done door-to-door, by standing in front of a store or establishment, or by phoning or mailing people individually. The idea is that direct appeals are harder to resist than general appeals, and so more people are likely to at least give some money rather than say "no" entirely. The problem is that so many companies use this route that some individuals feel that this method is too intrusive and refuse every direct appeal made.

Awareness Raising: You will find some enthusiastic donors and some volunteers and resources by letting people know about the problem your group is trying to correct and by telling people about your non-profit group itself. Raising people's awareness about your group and your groups' work is a big job. You can raise awareness in many ways:

Reports in the media (interviews, articles)

Advertising

Visiting groups such as schools to let people know about your group

Setting up booths at fairs, volunteer workshops, and other community events

Going door to door to tell people about your group

Sending mail campaigns to raise awareness

Setting up events that will raise awareness (and money, too)

Market Research: Every successful non-profit needs to do exact market research in order to find out who the most likely donors are for their group. There are market research firms that can do this for a sum, but if you are a small or new non-profit, you can do your own market research by using newspapers and your own community knowledge to find out who will be most likely to support your group.
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