Fundraising & Capacity Building

Fundraising & Capacity Building

Have reservations about how to raise funds to make your innovative idea for social change a reality? Join our discussion and ask those burning fundraising questions to our group of local experts. From grants to new forms of crowd sourcing they have experienced it all!

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Ask a fundraiser! Join our discussion and learn from our group of local experts who are here to share their experience about raising funds!

Ask a fundraiser! Join our discussion and learn from our group of local experts who are here to share their experience about raising funds!

  1. 374 days ago

    Peter Heri

    Where can I get grant to support my business idea?



  2. 822 days ago

    Sonia Bianchi

    Great discussion everyone! Check back later this week to discuss finding your funder with Andy Price! This space will remain live for 4 weeks so feel free to ask questions and keep the conversation going! Meanwhile check out this weeks topic Strengthening Communities!



  3. 826 days ago

    Shawna Louise

    Where do you find core funding for an organization just getting off the ground????



    • Esther Jang

      Hi Shawna Finding funding for an organization getting starting comes back to having a very strong case for support. Your mission, needs and urgency must be well defined so that when you are going tout there to talk to potential funders you have a strong story to tell. I would assume that you have a board or advisory committee that your organization is working with and generally these individuals are involved because of they believe in what the organization is about. Tapping into their network is a good start to getting your foot through the door. You should also have a strategy to “ask” your board for support. The most common reason an individual does not give is that they were not asked.

      825 days ago


    • Andy Price

      I absolutely agree with Esther. The people who are closest to you are the most likely to support you with a gift. If you are looking to develop a stable, ongoing funding base, I do recommend looking a monthly giving program. I’ll be posting here shortly about some first steps to building a donor base.

      825 days ago


    • Sonia Bianchi

      Andy’s blog “It’s 8:30am. Do you know where your donors are?” can be found here: http://is.gd/Ni3ycG

      In case you are interested in learning more about building a donor base!

      813 days ago


  4. 826 days ago

    Karen Mason-Bennett

    I work for a non-profit that has been lucky enough to not have to do much fundraising over the past 20 years – we had just enough people to deal with the contracts! But as our organization is expanding, we are starting to want to develop our own projects rather than simply deliver those coming from funders. For the most part, the public knows that our programming (from the regional district) is free and embarking on fundraising efforts is a definite departure from the norm. Is there a way of making the transition from the ‘free organization’ to one that requires some public support any easier?



    • Bonnie Foley-Wong

      Hi Karen, I often remind people that nothing is actually free – someone, somewhere is paying for it. Transparency and honesty is helpful. If you are fundraising for completely different programs and projects than the fully-funded free ones, then make it very clear what the public fundraising is paying for. Distinguish the value proposition of the new programs and projects to help your supporters understand your new model and avoid confusion. Best of luck! Bonnie

      826 days ago


    • Taylor Conroy

      Good call by Bonnie there. I looked up what you guys do, and (at a glance) I believe the transition will be a lot easier than you think. It is a matter of clearly relaying what you do and how you make evry $1 work to make the world a better place. I know that sounds cliche… but it’s true. From what I saw, you likely have a large database of people that have been involved with your orgs efforts over the years, and you are involved in something that a lot of this province is very interested in right now – THIS IS A HUGE HELP. I am a bit familiar with the space you are in, and I believe there is a lot of space to differentiate, create a clear message, and get the support of a whole lot of people. You have a number of the important steps checked off – been around for 2 decades – lots of proof of impact – trusted name, and lots more. I think right now it is a matter of deciding exactly how much you would like to bring in and planning predictable strategies to accomplish just that. There are a number of fantastic platforms and fundraising vehicles to use now, and if done right, you can coordinate most of it online for very little cost. Let me know if you want to get more into the specifics – I love what you guys do.

      822 days ago


  5. 826 days ago

    Carmen Moreira

    Hello Everyone. I’ve been in touch with April from Ashoka regarding our non-profit, SQx Danza, and are definitely facing an unfortunate hurdle, which she suggested I share.

    We would like to hire some youth workers to help us assist in expanding our activities (especially the ones that your more profit generating than others). Unfortunately, because we are a non-profit we do not qualify for federal youth employment subsidies and because we were only incorporated in February 2012 we do not qualify for regional (provincial) non-profit youth employment funding (which the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) distributes through a College of the Rockies Program) until September 2013.

    The CBT / College of the Rockies guidelines states that the non-profit has to be in existence for one year before they can access funds, and SQx misses the program start dates for January 2012, September 2012, and January 2013. We don’t have the funds to hire a super qualified individuals and, in fact, would prefer to hire youth anyways because we want to leave a legacy in the community and impart youth with valuable leadership and entrepreneurial development skills that will serve them in their future careers.

    What’s more, I have already been in contact with local community leaders in the Kaslo, BC area who are thrilled to have youth jump on board but it seems we are facing unfavorable circumstances. Feedback? Advice? Suggestions?



    • Bonnie Foley-Wong

      Hi Carmen, expanding activities and new developments sometimes require extra funds to get them started. In the for-profit world, this is equity – either the company’s own equity or someone else’s. I like to apply the same underlying principles to situations faced by not-for-profits. To hire staff and incur more costs before more revenues come in, you need to fund this from a surplus – either the not-for-profit’s own surplus or someone else’s. Start with understand your goals – what do you aim to achieve by hiring more youth workers. Get clear on your message. Then get super creative about who is aligned with your mission and who would want to pay to support it. Your local community leaders are thrilled to have youth jump on board – are they thrilled enough to help pay for it? Even a little bit helps because then you can use this initial support to attract more support from elsewhere. All the best, Bonnie

      826 days ago


    • Taylor Conroy

      Hey Carmen, how much experience do you have with interns? They are a fantastic win-win in that they provide excellent work for free, and they receive great training and “resume ammo” for their future careers. Everyone is motivated by very different things, and studies show that “money” is usually number 4 on the list of what is important to job seekers. If you can create a vision of what your organization will be accomplishing, the lives that will be better because of your work, and the fun you can all have in the process, then you will have no trouble bringing on great interns who are completely dedicated to your efforts. It is a matter of showing the direct correlation between the work that person is doing (whether in the more ‘for profit’ realm or strictly ‘non profit’) and their lives being better and the world being better because of it. Can you relay exactly how you make the world a better place in 30 seconds or less? If so… then creating the vision of how each roll fits into that mission is easy. There are hundreds of interns out there right now who would love to work with your org – they just need to know why they would love it… and you are the one to tell them.

      822 days ago


  6. 826 days ago

    Sonia Bianchi

    Thanks for the great information so far!

    I had a question regarding Writing a Case for Support. What are the logistics around writing a case? Is this something that a board of directors is involved in writing or a staff person or founder? Are there any best practices around length and level of detail?



    • Esther Jang

      Hi Sonia – Generally the case for support is developed by the leadership team. In LIFT’s case, the core messaging was based on feedback from our executive, development team and written by our communication manager. While the board has final approval of the case, and in most cases, the board will approve it based on the recommendation of the leadership team. Having your board support also strengthens their understanding of the fundraising process and ideally, your board will be experienced and supportive of the role they play in facilitating peer-peer introductions and this case will be able to provide the details . At LIFT, our case for support is 6 pages of which we are able to pull out certain sections to prepare our propsals, communications and website content. Having the case for support to draw upon ensures our language and messaging is consistent. The depth and length of a case is largely dependent upon your need, size of your organization and mission, however, I would strongly suggest that the length of your case put forward your potential funders be about 2 pages, unless otherwise requested. There are great examples and templates to create a case for support under the resource section of the AFP website http://www.afpnet.org .

      825 days ago


  7. 828 days ago

    Sarah Mintz

    Thanks for the blog post, Taylor. It’s a good reminder of the power of campaigns. I have a non-profit that does education work in rural Zambia, including a program on gender equity and empowerment for girls & women. I have been thinking about an email campaign to all of the women in our network, asking them to make small contributions that will go towards our next empowerment camp. Any suggestions on how much to ask for and how to make this really work? Also, what are your thoughts on making specific asks, versus unrestricted funding asks? Thanks!



    • Taylor Conroy

      Specific. Hands down. Even if there are choices with specific amounts, do not leave it open. The people that want to leave more than your specified amounts will leave more… they will not be hindered by your 3 suggestions. Here is a fantastic TED talk that will help you determine your ‘asks” (keep your ears open for when he talks about the 3 bottles of wine – that’s the point I think will be of most value). As for email campaigns, I would say DON’T DO IT… the typical way. You need to be super clear, incredibly motivating, and make it mind blowingly EASY for people to take the action you want them to take. Women’s stuff is the best… you ladies get together and ROCK. We guys… are a bit more independant (bigger egos), so are tougher to mobilize into a cohesive group that wants to make change. Lastly, do not just send out a mass email and hope for the best. It would be about ten thousand percent more productive to birng on an intern or hire someone for 2 weeks of work and have them send out the emails PERSONALLY. Mass emails get deleted, most of the time even before they get opened (despite how wonderful your header is and how eloquent or sassy you make your wording). Contact me on http://www.destroynormal.com if you want to chat more :)

      828 days ago


    • Taylor Conroy

      oops – here is the TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ dan_gilbert_researches_happiness.html

      828 days ago


    • Bonnie Foley-Wong

      Hi Sarah, What you’re talking about has hints of a crowdfunding campaign. I want to connect you to friends of mine, Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens of Lunapads who are also amazing advocates for empowering girls and women. They have undertaken some very creative campaigns to fund their philanthropic and charitable work in Uganda (Pads4Girls, which is beautifully connected to their social purpose business Lunapads). I agree with Taylor’s comments about making it super easy for your supporters to get on board. It’s great that you have a tribe of women in your network already to reach out to – that’s step one (http://www.thedominoproject.com/2012/06/why-kickstarter-campaigns-fail.html) I often encourage not-for-profit entrepreneurs to think of their supporters and donors as their customers. What are you offering them? What value do they get from supporting your work and programs. It has to be something that resonates with them or something that they can identify easily and tell their friends about. It’s likely going to be something that makes an emotional connection. Folks might do a bit of analysis in their head to help them in their decision whether to contribute and how much, but wonderfully gamechanging initiatives tap into people’s emotion and intuition. All the best, Bonnie

      827 days ago


  8. 828 days ago

    Our Local Markets

    This is a tough issue to address. We applied for a government grant to help cover start-up costs however since we are a for-profit business we did not qualify. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We don’t want to start off with large debt load. It makes more sense to start small and build upon our success. That is what we are doing now. I like the idea of a certified B corporation: http://www.bcorporation.net/ B corporations may remove some of the barriers that exist for organizations like ours that are for-profit and have a sincere goal to make a social impact.



    • Taylor Conroy

      There are a lot of challenges for social enterprises for sure… though there are way more benefits than challenges if you ask me. The fact that you are doing business to impact the world will open a lot more doors than it closes. You have a lot more tools at your disposal in terms of selling points, value of your services (you are no longer a commodity where cheaper is better – because you are way different), and you have access to a way larger group of people that will advise and guide what you are doing being that you can tap into the for profit and non profit worlds. I have grown strictly for-profit companies, and social enterprises… the momentum and suppport in the latter, in my experience, has been exponentially easier (and more fun) to gather and keep going. Remember… you ARE NOT a non profit… make sure you don’t adopt the whole “we are just trying to do good in the world, it is so tough out there” atitude that so many non profits have. you are pioneering a new industry. One that is marrying two diametrically opposed ways of thinking into something that will change this world. There is no industry with more potential than social enterprise.

      828 days ago


    • Bonnie Foley-Wong

      Hi “Our Local Markets”! Don’t worry so much about legal structures and labels for social enterprises – everything is still in transition and in a state of flux. Focus instead on being clear on your mission, vision, and values. Communicating these things, along with what you need and what you have to offer, to the right audience is what you need to do to get the resources you need for next steps. Some grants are specifically for not-for-profits and invariably grants have specific criteria attached to them. There are business grants for for-profit startups. Other options are friends and family and bootstrapping. The key is not to focus on the type of funding or capital available, but rather what your goals are and what does supporting your venture at this early stage provide for a funder or investor. Personally, I think debt is inappropriate at the startup stage because you’re likely not generating sufficient profits at a high enough margin to pay interest and repay loan principal. Have a look at Lean Startup methods to build small and build smart in your early stages. I wrote a blog post on how I applied Lean Startup to my own venture. All the best Bonnie

      827 days ago


    • Bonnie Foley-Wong

      Here’s the link to my blog post about how Lean Startup methods worked for me http://bonnie.foleywong.com/leanstartup-socent-how-lean-startup-methods-worked-for-me/

      827 days ago


    • Our Local Markets

      Thank you for your comments Taylor and Bonnie. Both of you have provided much food for thought. Once we get past the start-up we’ll be home-free. Our business has an ethos of a co-op which will give us some security. It is difficult to make financial projections. From what I read about Lean Startup methods, I think we are on the right track. We have implemented a lean version of our services by participating in farer’s markets through central Vancouver Island. We are making a profit and getting the word out there. We are also connecting with so many people that are interested in the local food movement that it feels overwhelming.

      827 days ago


    • Bonnie Foley-Wong

      Awesome – I can’t wait to hear more about your venture as it develops :-)

      826 days ago


    • Taylor Conroy

      Good luck!!!

      822 days ago


  9. 829 days ago

    Sonia Bianchi

    Hi Innovators! Have questions about how to find funding to make your great idea a reality? Post them here and all week our expert fundraisers will weigh in and give advice based upon their experience.

    I’m curious to hear your tales of fundraising success and what you’ve learned along the way! Whats the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far from your efforts?