The Promise of Donors and Giving

Family PromiseHow would a small nonprofit organization create more transparency to attract big donors? If small fundraisers believe they are likely to get turned down because this has happened historically, they need to look at why. And understand that they are the very reason big donors have their heart in fundraising. The ability to effect change on a small nonprofit organization that one major donor could bring is great.

Small nonprofit organizations who don’t usually ask big donors are often the same ones who inspire them the most. Philanthropists more than anything are motivated by one key factor – they want to make a difference. They are looking for satisfaction. Yet the reason small nonprofit fundraising campaigns don’t involve big philanthropists is because they are often turned down for lack of transparency.

Giving happens when the greatest need is expressed. Sharing statistics with top donors as to why you need their help is important. Publishing statistics regarding how your organization is effecting change on a cause is equally as important. Family Promise shared that 2.5 million children and adults will experience homelessness in American in the next year. This is on their homepage and is their boldest message. Just underneath is an icon to click, Our Stories, which leads you to stories written by the very people they have helped.

Yet they don’t stop here. One of their website categories is What We Do containing several menu choices, including their mission statement and vision. Many nonprofit organizations stop there, yet Family Promise has a menu choice of Our Impact offering detailed information and statistics as to who have helped with the funds provided by their major donors. “We have provided shelter, meals, and support services to more than 700,000 family members. More than 74% of the families we serve find housing in less than nine weeks because of our intensive case management and community support. We mobilize more than 180,000 dedicated volunteers who make a tremendous difference in families’ lives – and in their communities.”

“For every dollar invested, we return $3 in donated goods and services.”

Procuring donors happens on a local and national level at Family Promise with equal vigor. The Family Promise North Boston Walk to End Homelessness has sought donors such as their local Whole Foods, Dominos, Starbucks and several small business. They have some interesting sponsor choices to make their fundraiser unique, with different levels of activity: The Stroll; The Hike; and The Power Walk. As well, this expertly planned fundraising event offers some free sponsor packages for businesses who sell food at their walk-a-thon on October 15. The fundraising barometer or leader board is live on their website and shows how each team is doing. The successful teams reflect the crowdfunding donor outreach of this local fundraiser, with several churches and businesses mixing it up.

Donors tend to first hone in on their cause, and decide what they are most concerned about.  Next, their decision about the organization they wish to support is usually based on their assessment of how well charity organizations are managed, and if their donation will have a true impact. This fact underlines transparency as to the efforts of the nonprofit being the reason for top donors to decide on giving.

A wealth of creative projects at Family Promise show donors specifically what the charity is doing about public education, and how much money each project brings to their cause. Art supplies and children are the primary tools of the Houses for Change, giving our youngest citizens a chance to make a difference. Children decorate pre-ordered house-shaped cardboard boxes to look like a house. The children take their boxes home and in the following weeks and fill them with change. Families next bring their boxes filled with change back to the school or church that arranged the project and donate them to any homeless related charity they select.

Houses for Change collection boxes More than 50,000 kids have raised more than $500,000 for charities of their choice in the Houses for Change collection boxes they created.

Family Promise involves its board members in the key role in fundraising of approaching donors. They get them involved in outreach to donors, and in asking their community to work together in addressing homelessness and its roots. They know that fundraising is truly not about money, rather it is about improving a community and addressing a global problem. They have provided them with the inspiration needed to seek top donors about giving. The Family Promise North Shore Boston board of trustees sets the mission and vision of the organization and ensures their nonprofit organization lives up to this in its ongoing work of helping homeless families.

How do volunteers impact the decisions of donors on giving? Transparency again is the key element in fundraising, and showing your donors in full detail how volunteers are of success is greatly important. “Since 1988, more than 900 initiatives have been developed, matching local needs with local resources. Community initiatives are a testament to the compassion – and the innovation – of Family Promise volunteers. Community Initiatives include a wide array of programs. Some get to the heart of core needs, such as childcare and job training, families face in order to regain self-sufficiency. Other initiatives find ways to match the strengths of local volunteers and the interests of local corporations with the needs of our guests, like financial literacy. Similarly, many initiatives build off core tenets of the Family Promise Program itself, leading to efforts like food assistance, furniture and clothing donation and health and wellness programs.”

Perhaps you have a large board of directors, and many volunteers and donors. On the other hand, you may be a small nonprofit with only a few very dedicated supporters. Regardless, tap into those who do support you and see how they can help. And not just by making a donation; what else can they do? Be inspired by Family Promise and learn from the best. Find free resources online to spur more ideas and strategies in nonprofit fundraising and seek top donors, creating the utmost of transparency at each turn.