Starting a Nonprofit

If everyone gave just $1, we would make budget

Classic Fundraising Scenario:

You’ve sent out 100 funding proposals to high net worth individuals, foundations, corporations as well as County and City entities.  Now what? The response is that they want to see a track record and results before they will fund.  The challenge is that you need funds to operate a program in order to gain a track record and results in order to attract funders.

How can you accomplish this?

Possible Solutions to gaining funding for first program:

  • Can you operate one prototype program on a small budget or no budget?
  • Can you personally fund it?
  • Can you ask your newly formed Board for assistance?
  • Are there program supplies or services that can be donated instead of purchased?
  • Are there businesses that would be willing to donate office or program space for you to conduct your programs?
  • Who in your personal circle of friends would be willing to provide seed funding?
  • Are there local foundations or funders who specifically like to fund new programs?

Steps to gaining a track record

  1. Gain resources (products, services, cash, etc.) to be able to operate the program
  2. Operate prototype program
  3. Gain track record and results
  4. Present to potential funders
  5. Receive funding to operate additional programs

More likely than not, your first donations are going to come from individuals who believe in you and the organization.  You may collect $25 checks from many people.  However, do not ask for the same amount from everyone.

There is a common fundraising mistake when Executive Directors say: If everyone in this community just gave $1, we would have enough funds to operate our programs.  First of all, not everyone is going to give, so you can’t assume $1 from each person.  And some people can give more than $1.  It would be a shame to leave “money on the table.”  Create individual asks and ask amounts for each person and you are sure to be more effective with your fundraising!

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