Are you stuck in your approach to fund raising? Is it time to diversify?

Saturday, 18 August @ 9:20 PM

Many non-profit organizations have their tried and true approaches to fund raising.  Whether it is planned giving, annual telethons, fund raising events, a pledge program, grants or posting a DONATE NOW button on your website, it may be time to step back and look at a more diversified approach.

While donors may write checks to you through one or more of these programs, don’t ever forget that they are really in the business of helping you solve (or at least making a significant dent) in social and/or environmental problems.  And while cash is convenient, there may be other ways that your donors can help.

And while you may define the donors’ purpose as funding your initiatives, they may see their purpose as achieving as much impact as possible.  Indeed, their aim may be no less than changing the world.

“So even though donating money to nonprofits is one means of achieving that goal, its often just a starting point.  It is not the endgame.”

Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, co-authors Do More than Give

One of the things that I love about Crutchfield and Kania’s book is that they shift the focus from you to the donor — from what you are trying to accomplish, to what the donor is trying to achieve.  And if there are other ways for them to help you, it may be beneficial to consider diversifying their options of providing their support.  This way you may also be able to significantly expand your base from those that are capable of writing a check or making a pledge, to methods that leverage their everyday activities.

As a strategic consultant, I am well known for my focus on the customer and in this particular context, I would say that the donor is the customer.  If you are donor centric, you will understand that there are many ways to reach them and many ways that they can both advance your cause and achieve their goals of changing the world.

I will give you one example.

Rock the World Network, which I co-founded, has a program for non-profits called  This program allows an organization (even one that is a for profit entity or corporation) to leverage the travel of those that are sympathetic to their favorite cause/charity to raise funds.  We provide the organization with their own co-branded version of the site and they promote it to their donors, their volunteers, their board, their staff and other supporters that may not currently donate, such as friends and family.  On a quarterly basis, we donate 5% of the net revenues generated by the travel done on their own site.   The supporters simply use this site for all of their travel, versus Expedia, Priceline or an airline or hotel website.   And since the money comes from Rock the World, instead of from the traveler, it is a really easy decision for them to make to support you through this Travel Partner Program.  With most people traveling 4 times per year for personal reasons and 6.7 times for business, the contribution can add up.    For instance if you reach 10,000 travelers that pledge to use the Travel Partner Program, you could bring in an extra $200,000 per year, literally while you sleep.

I would love to hear other innovative ideas.  Please share with our readers other ways that you have diversified your fund raising.  By incorporating some of these ideas, you can truly achieve an integrated giving program for your supporters.

One thought on “Are you stuck in your approach to fund raising? Is it time to diversify?

  1. Hi Chicke,

    I’m finding more and more ways in which organizations and nonprofits are working together to generate income for great causes. We will be renaming some of our sections and categories soon to make things a little easier to find. For now, Philanthropegie users can go to the “cause marketing” section for some good examples.

    Thanks for reminding us to keep the donor’s intentions in mind. I believe we are most often focused on what we’re trying to accomplish instead. While that is necessary for us to get our job done – it can leave us out of many great dialogues and opportunities to diversify.


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