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How Does a Nonprofit Find Funding to Keep the Lights On?

How Does a Nonprofit Find Funding to Keep the Lights On?

  • Comments 2
  • "Program grants have a budget directly related to them, and for the most part do not cover operations or overhead costs. Capacity-building grants are limited and very difficult to get. So, how does a nonprofit find funding to keep the lights on and grow the programs?"

    By not relying only, solely on grants. A healthy nonprofit is one that gets its funding from a diversity of sources. A nonprofit can look for ways to charge for some of its services.

    -- For instance, if you are organizing an activity for a group of volunteers from the local branch of a large national bank, that requires a huge amount of time and resources on your part, an activity that is mostly about giving the group a feel-good experience rather than getting critical tasks done. Are you charging the corporation a fee, even a small amount, to cover some or all of these costs? Be ready to show a detailed lists of what the costs are for your organization to create this group volunteering activity.

    -- Corporations frequently ask nonprofits to collaborate on a project, to advise the company on an activity, such as the development of new software or the launching of an event. For anything that is going to require staff to spend more than an hour on a corporation’s project, ask the corporation to cover the staff person’s time.  

    -- Should volunteers be asked to pay a fee to cover some of the costs of training and supervising them?  Would a corporation or business be willing to give you a donation in return for saying that they “sponsor” all volunteer training?

    Also, be up front and detailed about what operations and overhead costs are. Detail them on your web site. Show, without apology, just how essential having a space (or spaces), office equipment and a paid staff are to delivering your services - and make sure there is a "donate" button on your web site so that anyone can donate to help cover those costs. Individual donors play an essential role in covering such costs.

  • Thanks for the tip. We'll use the information above the best we can. Our problem is that we haven't received certification, do you know if fiscal sponsorship is a good idea?

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