Every organization needs money to operate. Nonprofits are unique in that they usually have to convince other people that what they are doing is worthy of their donation. Raising money is a continuous process for the nonprofit, and there are many different ways to raise money. The Bridgespan group, in an article posted on the Stanford Social Innovation Review, identified 10 different models for fundraising utilized by large successful nonprofits. By no means is this an exhaustive list or the only way nonprofit social ventures have been able to thrive, but it provides some of the time-tested and battle hardened methods for helping keep an organziation thriving in even the most difficult times.
The models have been categorized by Bridgespan according to their source of funding. The five themes are as follows: many smaller individual donations, large donations by few individuals or foundations, the government, corporations, and finally a mix of funders. Within many of these there are subcategories, which will be detailed below and combined they create the 10 models described above.
Your choice for a model will depend largely on the type of service you provide, and may not appear immediately. If the first model you try doesn't work, try a different model. Maybe you can combine a couple at the same time and see which one works best. As long as you keep an open mind you should be able to stumble across a model that works for you, and it may not even be one of the models suggested above!
Even though this list isn't exhaustive, it does give quite a few examples of successful models. What wasn't discussed above, and should maybe be considered, is the idea of offering a product or service that provides revenue. The most important thing is to be creative, think about what needs you are trying to solve, and what will help you pursue your mission. By focusing on fulfilling the mission first and foremost, a fundraising model may fall into your lap, and if worse comes to worst, you can always reach out to local nonprofit executives for advice and help in developing a fundraising strategy.
Landes, William, Kim, Peter & Christiansen, Barbara. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Spring 2009.
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