Starting a Nonprofit

$$$$$$: Fundraising for a New Nonprofit

Fundraising for a new nonprofit is challenging… to say the least.  You will need to determine how you will sustain the activities of your organization through fundraising.  There are three main methods of fundraising: Individual Donations, Grants and Corporate Donations.  This chapter will discuss how to create a basic fundraising plan, develop a case statement and initiate fundraising efforts.

Simple Fundraising Plan

There are three fundraising buckets:

  1. 1. Individuals
  2. 2. Foundations
  3. 3. Corporations


Individuals can be solicited face-to-face, via phone, via snail mail letter, via email or via many different methods.  Make a list of your friends and colleagues who would be willing to support your new nonprofit financially.  Now comes the hardest part: asking for money.

  • What is the easiest way to ask for money?
  • What is the hardest?
  • How will your results be affected by the way you ask?

It is easiest to just send a letter – or an email.  I would highly recommend that you challenge yourself to meet with individuals face-to-face.  This can happen one-on-one (very effective) or in a small group setting (like a gathering you’ve hosted in your home).

Simple solicitation:

  1. Tell your story (see “Defining Your Passion“)
  2. Define the need (the people in need)
  3. Define your programs (activities/services that will fulfill the need)
  4. State the cost
  5. Ask for a donation


Research if you have a community foundation in your area.  Community foundations offer lots of resources for nonprofits to connect with private foundations. Check to see if they have grant research and writing classes to better your skills. Often they have a grants database that you can search to find foundations that will fund your nonprofit.


Corporations often like to give to events through sponsorships because they utilize their marketing dollars to gain positive exposure in the community by supporting nonprofits.  Keep this in mind as you approach them so you can offer exposure and marketing opportunities through their support of your organization.

Simple Fundraising Event

Although event fundraising is not my favorite avenue, it is a great place to start.  In order to begin fundraising for the Women Film Foundation, we hosted “happy hour fundraisers.”  This was a good venue for me because I was in my early 20’s and so were my friends.  Neither of us had much money, but I knew they would be willing to support.  The event was held from 5-7 p.m. after work at a local restaurant bar.

There were two ways we made money: ticket sales and raffle ticket sales.  In order to lower the overhead, I asked a friend (who was owner of a bar) to host the event by donating the food and booze for the evening.  The ticket sales were 100% profit.  I asked lots of my other friends if they could donate in-kind products – purses, gift certificates, free massages, hotel stays, etc. – as raffle prizes.  Each event ticket came with a raffle ticket (along with food and drinks), but guests eagerly purchased more raffle tickets.

I invited my friends, colleagues, and friends of friends to attend.  They supported generously and we were able to raise $500 or so from the event.  It may not seem like much, but when all programs were being paid for out of my pocket, it felt like a fortune.

Good luck as you embark on your first fundraising efforts!  It is a lot of work and you will receive some “no’s”, but when you get that first “yes” — it is the best moment!!

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