There is no doubt that in general people want to help non-profit organizations to provide the services that they do. This has been highlighted especially in Australia a number of times with the most recent being for the victims of the Victoria Bushfires. Additionally we have seen this generosity on a global scale, through both Live 8, and the Tsunami appeal. All of these have generated millions of dollars of support, both locally and on a global scale.
However while these events, are things that nobody wants to see happen, and are willing to help when the request is made. They are often one time events (with the exception being the Cause behind Live 8). While we do all want to support these causes, there are also a large number of much smaller, more every day non-profits, who provide vital services everyday, on an ongoing basis. Often these smaller non-profits, need many different kinds of support not just on a one off basis, but on an ongoing basis.
So really the topic that i would like to share with you today is how these non-profits can encourage people to help them, but also how you may be able to help these smaller non-profit organizations. I believe that help to some extent needs to come from both sides. Non Profit organizations need to help business, just as much as they need the help of businesses. There is a difference in how the help from both sides is presented and provided.
Maybe the comment that Non Profit organizations need to help business, comes as a little of a shock. However it is meant in the way that you may think it is. The way that Non Profits need to help business is to share as much information about their organization as they can. Often there is an assumption that non profits only need financial assistance, which is something that i have found to be incorrect for the most part, even though it is needed to some extent. However it comes to reason how do businesses actually know what they can do beyond financial assistance if they do not know about your organization, and or projects.
Sharing information can be one of the more difficult parts of the equation though. While many big non profit organizations get a lot of coverage through media, and through other means. This exposure is often not possible for smaller and more locally focused non profits. There are a couple of ways that this can be worked around though, and often all of these ideas can be done for very little money if not free.
- Create an email newsletter – often it is the simple things that can keep peoples attention. This is something that can be quite simple and it will keep reinforcing what you do to your regular donors, as well as giving you something to make available on your website to show on going achievements to new potential donors. Finally it can be sent out to businesses that you may like support from, or that may have a compatible business philosophy.
- Keep an updated list on your website of what you need, time, products, services. Really anything besides money. This will make in some respects easier for potential donor’s to be able to make a donation based on something they have available, rather then assuming that financial contributions are the only thing you are looking for.
- Create a video – It used to be difficult and cost a lot of money to be able to make a video, however now it is a lot easier, and may not even cost you anything. Almost any digital camera will capture video now, and you even have simple editing software which comes with windows. Creating a video of some achievements, or volunteers, working to achieve the goals of your organization may better be able to show who, what and how you do what you do.
These are just three ways that you can make it just a little easier to get your organization in front of potential donors, maybe not automatically as can be achieved through mass media, but with simple email campaigns or such to businesses can help to get you some attention.
One thing that i have found is that it can be quite difficult to specify any one single method that will work without fail. Often the type and range of donor’s that are within the core group that you may like to target, can come from very varied backgrounds. As such what you may do to encourage one group, wont work for another, and while some people are able to find your website, or happen across a video you have online. Other’s will not even know about these things existing.
One way that you can counter this is by being active in talking with your currant business donor’s. Many business owners know a number of other business owners, and talk about any range of different things, and if you are keeping your existing donor’s well informed, they may find it as a topic that they are more likely to share if it is kept in their mind.
Finally i think that a portion of what a non profit does is essentially sales, and networking. While the idea that people would want to come to you and make donations because of the cause, is good unfortunately it seems to just not work out this way. Just like any business unless you are out there talking to people, especially within your desired group of donors, than you are less likely to gain the donation that you need, then if you are participating in local business networking events, or other community events where you can encourage more people to be aware of your cause.
While in writing this article the opinions that i have found and that i have gained from people, are to a great degree giving the same message, that both from a financial and a time view point, there is not time or money available often to get the message out there. However this is possibly not the best perspective to look at when considering the primary way that you gain support. It may be difficult to find the time, and finding money is not always essential there are a low of free or low cost method’s which can be used. However even taking a small amount of time to maybe attend a local business networking event may gain you a lot more then the time it takes.