In an uncertain climate—like the current economic landscape—there are many opportunities for growth. For many grassroots organizations, the current situation can create uncertainty and fear about funding and financial stability. At Freshwater Future we want to offer our suggestions on how to secure funds in the current economy.
Faced with funding challenges, it is the natural instinct for many organizations to pursue monies from two sources: government grants and foundations. While this is an understandable tendency, it is first important to examine the source of the roughly $306 billion given to nonprofits in 2007. Of this, only 12% came from foundations! The overwhelmingly largest source—some 76%— came from individual donations.
These individuals come from all economic strata and with 2/3 of that roughly $155 billon donated by households with an annual income of less than $70,000, it is easy to see that people like yourself are a wonderful resource that organizations can depend on for funding in all economic climates.
There are a variety of advantages to having a funding system based on individual donations, the foremost of which is the advantage that a diversified funding base can bring. A diverse group of foundations, donors—both major and small individual— and government grants ensures that your organization can weather all economic climates. Nowhere is this more apparent than with individual donors; while some might be hit hard by changing economic fortunes, with a broad base of individual donors you have ample opportunities to campaign for funds.
A second advantage to an individual-based funding plan is that it forces your organization to interact more closely with your constituents and members. Studies have shown that the more familiar your organization is with your funders, the more money those funders are willing to give. A fundraising plan focused on individuals requires an “all hands on deck” approach from your staff and volunteers, but can be a great opportunity to connect with your members and make important new relationships.
Your organization’s mission and work to protect the resources in your community is the key to developing those relationships that will support your projects and efforts.