Raising Funding for a New Non-Profit

Fundraising for a non-profit is hard enough… stating your case, writing a plan, and coming up with creative fundraising ideas takes time and hard work. Raising funding for a new non-profit, though, is doubly hard, because donors like to see a track record of success before investing their hard earned dollars into your cause.

Raising funding for a start-up charity is successfully done every day, however, despite the reluctance of traditional and institutional donors to get involved. Here are four tips for successfully funding your new non-profit venture:

1. Seek Start-Up Capital from Those Closest to You

The single best place for a non-profit founder to raise money is among your friends, relatives, and colleagues. Just as the founders of a new business who are looking for capital must often go to their own networks to raise seed money, so too the founder of a charitable organization normally must seek early-stage funding from their own rolodex.

These calls work because people have a hard time saying “no” to their friends. If your group has more than one founder, all the better: each person involved with starting the school, church, or charity should work the phones to seek donations for the non-profit. (For more information read What is a Fundraising Ask?)

2. Find a Board that is Passionate and Connected

Raising funding for a new non-profit is made easier when you build your board of directors with development in mind. Seek out business and community leaders who are passionate about the issue your organization addresses. Sit down with those leaders one-on-one and explain your mission and what you are hoping to accomplish with your new non-profit. Ask each leader to get involved by sitting on your board.

Once you build your board, ask your founding board members to help you raise $1,000, $10,000, $25,000, or whatever your group needs to get started.

3. Connect with Complementary Organizations

Many non-profits have had great success raising early gifts by connecting with complementary organizations in their area who might have a vested interest in seeing your new group succeed. For example, if you are raising funding for a new soup kitchen, would local churches, homeless advocacy groups, or anti-poverty groups want to help fund your launch? If you are working on starting a new school, the local civic association, the town’s municipal government, and large local employers might want to help get you started.

4. Kick Off Your Effort with a Launch Event

A fantastic way or raising funding for your new organization is by holding a big launch event as your first fundraising activity. Recruit a well-connected host committee that cares about your mission, but that also loves to hold events. Get them to work their networks to find event sponsors and sell tickets.

The reason events work particularly well for start-up funding is because often, people who wouldn’t give $100 to your new non-profit are more than willing to pay $100 to go to your cocktail party, and many socialites who may not be interested in raising money for your initial fund drive might be willing to throw a fabulous fundraising event for you.