Charities do good work, but good work isn't free. Most charities need to raise money to pay staff and offer programs, services or materials to further their chosen causes. Finding people and organizations who want to give money typically isn't difficult, but the hard part is convincing them to give their money to your charity.
Create a Case for Support
Before you can anyone for money, you must clearly and concisely explain why your charity needs money. A case for support outlines your charity's mission and function. It typically provides outcomes, or hard numbers that show how your charity has had an impact, such as how many underprivileged children your organization provided meals to during the summer. The case for support explains how your charity is different from others doing similar work and describes your plan to meet the organization's goals. Adding a testimonial or telling the story of a person your organization helped provides a powerful tug on the reader's heartstrings. Most grant applications require a case for support, but creating it before doing any fundraising helps you get your thoughts organized for different types of solicitation presentations.
Diversify Your Prospect List
Successful fundraising means getting money from various sources, not just one. Holding fundraising events helps market your organization while raising money. While sending grant proposals to foundations is an essential piece of many fundraising plans, don't overlook asking individuals, service clubs and corporations for money. You often take a more personal approach when asking for money from these groups, such as one-on-one over lunch or meeting with a small group of decision makers. This personal connection helps you build a relationship with them so you can broaden the charity's network in the future by asking them to pass information about the organization onto their friends and co-workers.
Research Potential Donors
Sending out blanket requests for money to anyone you can find isn't likely to give you a good return on your time investment. Instead, think strategically. Research potential donors to find ones already interested in the services you provide. Searching foundation databases helps you narrow down which ones are likely to give money to your organization; databases that offer you access to foundations' 990 tax forms are best because you can see to which organizations they've recently giving money. If the organizations are similar to yours, your charity might be a good fit for the foundation. Also, ask your board and other key supporters to help you find other individuals or corporations that might be willing to donate, then ask them to introduce you to the decision maker so you can get your foot in the door.
The key to keeping money flowing into your charity is to build relationships. Keep donors invested in your organization by communicating with them regularly -- but not so often you annoy them -- through email, social media and newsletters. Thank them promptly with a letter, within two weeks of their donations, and thank them publicly in your next newsletter and annual report. Making sure they feel appreciated is the best way to get them to continue giving consistently, along with letting them know how their donations made a difference.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.