To grow and thrive, charity organizations must continually seek out new funding sources. When it comes to charity fundraising, every organization uses a different mix.
Today, technology plays a bigger and bigger role in fundraising, with supporters making more donations via mobile devices and through social media campaigns. Crowdfunding has also emerged as a driving force in charity funding online.
Here are eight sources for charity fundraising—check them out and you may find new sources for the funds you need to support your mission.
According to Charity Navigator, the majority of all giving comes from individuals, who gave more than $281 billion in 2016 (72% of the $390 billion given to charity). If you add in bequests, individuals account for nearly 80% of all giving.
Clearly, reaching individuals should be a central focus of your strategy. There are many ways to seek individual support, including social media, direct mail, advertising, public relations, events, subscriptions, merchandise, affiliate links, and more.
There are two ways individuals can help
1. Using crowdfunding to raise funds from individuals
One of the best methods for reaching individuals is crowdfunding. It dovetails easily with your social media campaigns and simplifies online giving for your donors.
See these campaigns for inspiration:
- Help My Voice Music Build a Community Music Center for Youth
- Help GMS Raise Critical Funds for the Kitties!
2. Individuals crowdfunding for your charity
To reach new audiences, encourage individuals to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for your charity. It’s becoming more popular for individuals to tap into their social networks to help out their favorite causes.
Check out these examples:
2. Charity crowdfunding sites
Crowdfunding platforms make it easy for both individuals and charities to raise funds for specific needs. Some crowdfunding sites also help you keep supporters engaged. For example, when you post updates on YouCaring, supporters can see all the positive outcomes you’re able to achieve thanks to their donations. This may inspire them to make repeat donations. And when the next fundraising cycle comes around, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to outreach—your crowdfunding campaign serves as a donor database.
Learn more about the best charity funding websites below. For a thorough breakdown of fees, see our post Which Fundraising Site Has the Lowest Fees?
With its Compassionate Crowdfunding™ platform, YouCaring offers free fundraising and a robust set of tools that play well with Facebook and Twitter. You can extend both deadlines and fundraising goals at any time. You can withdraw your charity funds as soon as they’re donated. Resources including live chat support and fundraising guides are also available.
No platform fee, only the industry-standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for third-party payment processing (through (PayPal or WePay), none of which goes to YouCaring.
As the name implies, GoFundMe is a platform for personal causes, though charitable causes technically can use the platform. For charities, the site takes a percentage of all funds raised.
A platform fee of 5% is taken from every donation, along with 2.9% + + $0.30 per transaction for payment processing, for a total of 7.9% + $0.30 per pledge.
CrowdRise assists people to raise money for charitable (but not personal) causes. You can earn Impact Points when you donate to causes on the site. CrowdRise is owned by GoFundMe. It takes a percentage of the funds you raise.
A platform fee of 5% is taken from every donation, along with 2.9% + + $0.30 per transaction for payment processing, for a total of 7.9% + $0.30 per pledge. CrowdRise offers donors the opportunity to cover these fees on behalf of the recipient.
Classy is tailored to large nonprofit organizations operating in multiple locations. The site helps remote fundraising teams work collaboratively and includes a campaign reporting tool. Another feature helps teams organize volunteer events, including ticketing and event registration. If you’re part of a robust organization with a large staff working in different locations, this could be an excellent choice.
Classy doesn’t disclose pricing for premium offerings (contact the site for a quote), but services start at $499 per month.
According to Charity Navigator, foundations gave $59.28 billion in 2016 (15% of all donations to charitable causes). This makes them the second largest source of funding for charities. While 15% is a small portion of overall giving, for any given nonprofit a foundation could be its major source of funding.
To receive funds from most foundations, your charity will need to be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Not yet registered? See our post How to Start a Nonprofit: Legal Musts for New Organizations.
Foundation grants are most often awarded for a specific program or distinct purpose. Foundations often focus on giving to:
- A specific population—people in a particular demographic group or specific geographical area.
- Certain types of nonprofits. A foundation might direct money at nonprofits in areas such as environmental protection or poverty alleviation organizations.
- Particular types of support, such as funding new capacity, projects, or research.
- Family foundations are legal entities set up by an individual, family, or another group for a specific purpose, usually philanthropy. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one example, though most family foundations are small and focused on a single issue or particular location.
- Corporate foundations get grantmaking funds primarily through contributions from a for-profit business. These foundations are often the charity wing of a corporation. Examples include the Walmart Foundation and the Ford Motor Company Fund.
- Community foundations have permanent funds or endowments established by many donors for the long-term benefit of residents in a specific area. Examples of community foundations include The Cleveland Foundation and The New York Community Trust.
How to find and apply for foundation grants
Use the following sites to review any foundation’s grants, application materials, and more:
- The Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory Online (FDO) Free helps you find a foundation’s website, contact info, and application forms.
- GuideStar is a directory of nonprofit organizations, including foundations, in the US. Registration is free.
4. Grants from local, state, and federal governments
Cities, counties, states, and the federal government issue grants to nonprofit organizations. Applying can be time-consuming and the rewards uncertain, but if you do earn a grant there are key benefits.
Biggest benefits of government grants
- Receiving a grant from a government agency can give a charity -morecredibility—which can help you secure more funding from other sources.
- Government grants are usually made in significant amounts that can make a real difference to your nonprofit’s bottom line.
- Grants from the government require no repayment (unless you don’t spend the money in the manner outlined in your application).
Biggest drawbacks of government grants
- Grant writing applications are complicated and take a lot of time, patience, and persistence to complete—all for an uncertain reward.
- Government grants often come with conditions and milestones you must meet and report on (to demonstrate effectiveness).
- Often, any funds not spent as outlined must be returned.
- As with foundation grants, government grants are usually offered only to 501(c)(3) organizations.
- Grants are meant for specific short-term purposes, not long-term operating costs.
How to find government grants
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is a listing of all US government grants, loans, and programs benefiting nonprofits, businesses, individuals, and families.
- Grants.gov is a great resource—check out their list of grants posted in the last seven days, and sign up to receive new funding notices via email.
- USA.gov for Nonprofits provides information for nonprofits from the IRS, the US Postal Service, and other federal agencies.
5. Earned income
Earned income is distinct from other forms of charity funding (donations, grants, etc.) because it comes from the sale of products or services. According to the Urban Institute, 47.5%of revenue for public charities (such as public universities, hospitals, and the YMCA) came from fees for services or the sale of products.
If your organization doesn’t sell products or services, ask yourselves whether this is something you can (or should) add to your fundraising mix.
6. Corporate Philanthropy
Corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important to large and small businesses alike. Consumers trust socially responsible companies more and reward them with their dollars.
How corporate social responsibility can benefit charities
- Some businesses look for nonprofits to partner with and support. They may wish to fund specific initiatives, events, or campaigns—such as crowdfunding campaign that allows them to leverage their presence on social media.
- Businesses might offer matching donations as part of your crowdfunding campaign.
- Beyond the dollars they direct your way, businesses often spend just as much (sometimes more) promoting their partnership as your organization does. In other words, they give you free publicity. This can boost your revenue from other sources, including donations made by individual customers of the business.
- Businesses may provide volunteer grant programs that enable employees and others to more easily volunteer hours to your organization.
7. Planned giving programs
Planned giving is known by many names: bequest giving, gift planning, deferred giving, legacy giving, and estate planning. They all describe the same thing: someone leaving money to charity in their will.
Planned giving is becoming more and more popular. According to Giving USA, the practice grew by 2% in 2015.
Once your organization reaches a certain status, make a pitch for planned giving to your supporters. It could grow to become a significant piece of your fundraising pie.
According to the Urban Institute, 25.3% of US adults volunteered with an organization in 2014, contributing an estimated 8.7 billion hours to the public good.
The value of all those hours? Approximately $179.2 billion—roughly half the value of all funds donated annually. So while volunteers’ time isn’t technically a revenue stream, your organization might want to view it as one. Boosting the number of hours volunteered to your organization is a huge and valuable win.
Making it rain for charity
Along with our free fundraising platform, YouCaring offers a wide variety of resources for nonprofits, like these fundraising ideas for charity. Our blog is also full of useful tips and information, including The Psychology of Giving. If you haven’t already started your first crowdfunding campaign, start one today.
Looking for more ways to give back? Read Charitable Giving: 12 Easy Ways to Make an Impact.