Put Down the Grants! Unbiased and Sustainable Fundraising Systems
On September 1st, 2021, I was able to join you all and Network For Good on a Webinar called Grant-Free Fundraising! Grow Like a Tech Startup. Feel free to watch it below!
For those who don’t know me, let me start over by saying Shalom! I’m Jasmine Fain, Founder / CEO of ENPWR U, a nonprofit program directory, and a nonprofit cashflow expert, where I specialize in nonprofit cashflow management, community-centric fundraising, and investor and sponsor relationship building.
I wanted to use this blog post to not only recap the steps you need to take to generate additional income like a tech startup company but most importantly, how you can put down the grants and learn to create funding systems that are unbiased and are sustainable.
However, first thing’s first: You need to know that your 501c3 is a tax loophole. It was created to give relief to those who do not want to pay back a high amount of their taxes.
Do you want to know another secret? The nonprofit industry is a branch of capitalism. So, the social divides, discrimination, and wealth inequality that lie within our system due to capitalism also lie within the nonprofit industry.
Now, that you are aware of the system that you are dealing with, let’s talk about three actionable steps you can take NOW to generate funding around these systems.
1. Shift your mindset to a tech startup/business mindset
Let’s define what a tech startup is and how a social enterprise startup compares to your 501c3. A tech startup is a company or project initiated by an entrepreneur to seek, effectively develop, and validate a scalable business model.
A social enterprise startup is a business that has specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment. Their profits are principally used to fund social programs.
Doesn’t the definition of a social enterprise startup sound really familiar to how we define our programs and services? The only difference is in the business model that they are using.
Let me tell you about the famous NCAA. Did you know they are actually a 501c3? Shocker, right? But they operate as a Social Enterprise Startup, and apply tech startup business principles to scale the revenue, gain media sponsorships, and ultimately give back to athletes.
Now that you know that one of the biggest companies we know that operates our Saturday Football games is a 501c3, let me ask you: Why haven’t you shifted your mindset to become a social enterprise startup founder?
2. Apply community-centric fundraising practices
Community Centric Fundraising Prioritizes the entire community over individual organizations, fosters a sense of belonging and interdependence. This fundraising practice encourages mutual support between nonprofits and their communities, to create a funding ecosystem that is sustainable for longer periods of time. The company Community Centric Fundraising was the first to coin this term, but you might have also heard it under the name of Peer to Peer Fundraising.
This style of fundraising is all about networks and collecting data to leverage for capital when you begin to pitch to investors. The key to it all is knowing how much you need to fundraise based on your program budget, and coming up with creative ideas to raise funds. I tell every nonprofit that I meet, and I’m telling you today, a fundraiser is ANY creative way you can come up with to raise funds. Take those old traditional nonprofit fundraisers out of your mind, and ask your community today, what would they come out for or get involved in, and create a fundraiser around that. Don’t believe me? Well, let me tell you how my client raised $2000 off of old cell phones.
She attended my summits/trainings, and learned in detail how to utilize community-centric fundraising. She went back and brainstormed with her community members about how they could raise money QUICKLY. They came up with the idea to gather everyone together to donate their old cell phones and electronics they were not using. Surprisingly, they collected 13 full boxes of old cell phones together, took them to the recycling center, and received $2000 for them. Talk about bringing a community together while being eco conscious!
The key is to do what your community likes, not what this nonprofit industry is telling you to do.
3. Learn to pitch to investors and sponsors like Shark Tank
Did you know that you can be on Shark Tank as a nonprofit? Well, not exactly the TV show, but you can apply for pitch competitions that will place you nonprofit in front of multiple investors at one time. If they like you, they will invest in you on the spot. But, before you go rushing to look for a pitch competition, ask yourself have you refined your pitch? Do you have data and key performance indicators? Can you clearly show how you solve the problems without your mission statement?
These are all questions you need to answer before rushing into a pitch competition. Why, because data is how investors get their return on their investment on you, since they can not take equity from you. Before they even give you hundreds of dollars, they want to make sure you have a clear plan in place for how to manage your money, and that you are actually making an impact in your community before they even show up.
The key to generating additional income without grants is to know your data and leverage your community to make a cashflow ecosystem. But I would like to lastly point out that you need to realize that YOU are the best person to carry out this purpose. Nonprofit work is purpose work, and you are constantly putting your mental, physical, and spiritual health on the line. Acknowledge today that you were never a lost, confused, or cash-begging founder. No, you were just a person who did not have the sufficient knowledge to know how to generate additional income.
Jasmine Fain is the CEO of ENPWR U, a directory for nonprofits to advertise their programs and services directly to communities and increase resource response rates in crisis or immediate situations. You can learn more about Jasmine and her work her website!