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Tips for Finding the Right Blend of Funds for your Non-Profit

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Tips for Finding the Right Blend of Funds for your Non-Profit

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: June 25, 2009

Financial support provides the leg-up that many small businesses need to start-up and expand. But if you are a non-profit business owner, getting the financial support you need to operate is even more fundamental than that - it is your bread and butter.

As with most money management, the process of raising funds to support the philanthropic efforts of your non-profit requires some diversification.

If you are strategic in your fund raising efforts you will have ongoing funding (like a for-profit has run-rate business) and you will also have episodic funding (a little like a business will get 'upside' business wins or gains).

While ongoing funds are the most important element of your fund-raising activities, since they provide a reliable foundation, episodic funding also has a role to play. Below are examples of ongoing versus episodic funds:

  • Ongoing funds are typically obtained through multi-year grants, a steady income stream from a store or sale of product (e.g. the ASPCA sells custom address labels and stationery), or from straightforward annual giving - where unrestricted funds are secured through organized efforts to support the operation of your non-profit.
  • Episodic funds include those secured through one-off corporate grants, bequests, etc. - they can be restricted or unrestricted in their use.

But where do you start to find the right blend of funds for your non-profit? Here are a few sources of episodic and ongoing funds:

1. Federal Government Grants for Non-Profits

While individual donors amount to the largest contributors to non-profits, you can also benefit from federal grant programs - a definite advantage for non-profits. Many small businesses make the mistake of believing that they are eligible for 'free money' in the form of federal grants to fund their businesses., In fact, only non-profits and certain organizations qualify for federal government grants.

As a non-profit, the best place to start your search for available federal grants is at www.grants.gov.

Once you have identified the grant or grants you think you have a good shot at being awarded, you will have to register with Grants.gov. If you are applying for more than one grant, make sure to cater your application to that particular group’s specifications. This grant could mean the ability to start the non-profit of your dreams and start making an impact, so take the time and effort now to stand out.

Grants.gov is just one resource the government provides to non-profits; check out these other information sources to find funding for your non-profit:

  • Business.gov has a page dedicated to resources for non-profits and includes information on grants and financial assistance for non-profits.
  • The online Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance gives you access to a database of all federal programs available to non-profit organizations and institutions.

2. Corporations

Philanthropic conscious corporate organizations can provide a good source of episodic funding to non-profits in the form of sponsorships or 'cause marketing'. Securing a good corporate sponsor for your non-profit involves a willingness to invest in such a partnership and provide tangible marketing benefit to them in terms of your organization’s demographics, your outreach initiatives, etc. After all, the true value to the corporation is to communicate their name and brand message to your constituents.

This is an undertaking that requires planning and research, a shot-gun approach is pointless - researching, evaluating and managing partnerships for a mutually beneficial outcome will require strategic investment on your part.

3. Federated Funds

These are contribution vehicles for donors to direct charitable monies to groups and programs that they care about. The most well known is United Way. Through affiliations with business employers, federated funds can provide substantial funds to charities. The one downside is that they tend to feature the 'big name' charities and exclude small, niche non-profits.

4. Foundations

Private, corporate, community and family foundations can be a lucrative source of endowments to non-profits. The Council on Foundations provides a window into thousands of foundations across the U.S. and maintains a searchable directory where you can explore potential non-profit endowments in your field.

Additional Resources

Other resources that can help you in your fund-raising efforts, from sourcing funds to writing grant proposals, include the following:

  • Business.gov’s Non-Profit Organization Start-up Guide - This site collects links to programs and services to help non-profits find opportunities available to them from the federal government including grants and financial assistance, tax information, government sales and surplus, and more.
  • The Center for Non-Profit Success - Here you’ll find training and resources to help non-profits succeed.
  • Foundation Center - This is a non-profit that connects non-profits and grant makers. It also provides resources and advice for starting and managing a non-profit.
  • Writing a Grant Proposal - From Summary to Budget
  • USA.gov for Non-Profits - This site is the online version of what many companies offering CFDA assistance services use to advise their clients. It is available for FREE to all who wish to reference it. It has specific information for non-profits divided into 3 sections: grants/loans, management/operations, and tax information.
  • About.com Non-profit Portal - Covering everything from starting up, fundraising, and managing volunteers to marketing your non-profit, About.com’s Non-Profit Guide is an invaluable and resource-rich Web portal.
  • Non-profit Guides - This site provides free Web-based grant-writing tools for non-profit organizations, charitable and educational organizations, public organizations, and other community-minded groups.

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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Hey Caron, These are great resources, a friend of mine is looking in to starting a charity and was getting stumped on where to start. Thanks a bunch! AddisonPre-Settlement FundingMessage Edited by NicoleD on 09-30-2009 11:03 AM

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