Athena Software Blog
Six innovative fundraising options for nonprofits
Posted by Neil McDonald on Mar. 31, 2014

For most nonprofits, fundraising is a constant concern.

Finding ways to keep money coming in is essential to keeping the lights on, retaining employees, and just plain staying afloat.

Traditional methods such as direct mail campaigns, knocking on doors and benefit events are still an effective way of soliciting contributions from businesses and private individuals alike.

However, there are plenty of new online avenues nonprofits can explore to generate funds.

If your nonprofit does not already have an online or social media presence, this is a great reason to get started.

Otherwise, you might miss out!

1. Crowdfunding

Over the last few years, crowdfunding has become an effective way for organizations of all stripes to raise funds for their products or projects.

Popular crowdfunding sites such as RocketHub and Kickstarter allow users to pitch their idea to the public, set a target amount for their fundraising goal and then spread the message through social media to drive traffic to a campaign.

Some crowdfunding platforms, like Indiegogo, have designated sections for nonprofits and offer a reduction in fees for registered 501c(3) organizations, while others, such as FirstGiving, were built specifically for non-profits.

There are many crowdfunding platforms to choose from, so it's important to browse and select the one that will work best for your organization - here is a helpful article from the good people at Hubspot outlining the top 7 sites you'll want to check out.

2. Giving Library

The Giving Library is on online resource for philanthropists looking for worthy causes to support.

Nonprofit organizations can apply to become part of the 'card catalogue' of the library and are then eligible to receive secure donations from individuals or organizations looking to donate to agencies that meet their specific interests.

Agencies in the library are organized into groups - Arts & Culture, Education, Environment and Animals, Health, Humanitarian, Civil Rights and Liberties, Government and Public Policy, Science and Research, and Other.

The benefits? You can use your Giving Library page to advertise your organization's mission, while exposing your organization to individuals or foundations looking to contribute to your cause.

Also, during the Giving Library's 'Share to Give' campaign, you receive $5 every time someone tweets about your Giving Library campaign.

Nonprofits can apply to become part of the Giving Library by filling out a form on their website.

3. Google Ad Grants

As we know, Google has long been more than the search engine you use to settle the office argument about who won the Oscar for best picture in 1981 (let me just check Google to find out who that was … Chariots of Fire? Raiders of the Lost Ark was robbed!).

They're also building smart glasses, web browsers, operating systems and, who knows, probably solar-powered rocket ships or something. It's a little out of control.

However, they are also known for their social conscience and have a Google Ad Grants campaign via their Google for Nonprofits program, where nonprofits can receive the equivalent of $10,000 per month in AdWords advertising.

This will almost certainly help increase your organization's online visibility, while guiding interested individuals to your site and to your cause.

Eligibility requirements include holding valid charity status and maintaining a functioning website with 'substantial content' - governments, hospitals, schools, childcare centres and universities are not eligible, however.

4. Brackets For Good: a March Madness Bracket for Nonprofits

Unconventional fundraising campaigns can generate news coverage, as was the case with the Brackets For Good campaign for Indianapolis nonprofits that hit the headlines in February this year.

Brackets For Good executive director and basketball fanatic Matt McIntyre organized a March Madness-style 'tournament' of 64 local nonprofits, who would then compete in an online donation campaign toward winning the ultimate grand prize of $10,000.

Each dollar donated to an organization online counted as one point, with each 'round' lasting a week.

Though a contest pitting nonprofits against each other may potentially be off-putting for some, the campaign succeeded in generating interest in donating to local nonprofits and garnering all-important news coverage.

As McIntyre said, "We came up with the idea to help raise awareness about the nonprofits that exist in our own backyard."

And that's never a bad thing.

5. Reddit Donating 10 Per Cent of Ad Revenue to Nonprofits

Social networking site reddit recently announced that it will be donating 10 per cent of its advertising revenues for 2014 to non-profit organizations chosen by the site's users.

In a blog announcing the initiative, reddit said they "intend for all ad revenue this year to benefit not only reddit as a platform but also to support the goals and causes of the entire community."

Essentially, reddit will ask their users at the end of the year to nominate their favourite non-profit, an election will be held and then the top 10 vote-getters will receive a proportion of the ad revenue being distributed.

Like Google Ad Grants, nominees must be 501c(3) organizations.

There's no real way to 'apply' for this, but if you have a strong social media presence, you can urge your followers to nominate you. Another good reason to increase your online presence!

6. Bitcoin? Sure, Bitcoin!

Bitcoin is something of a buzz word these days - the virtual currency has made headlines for its rapid increase in value and increasing popularity as a secure way to conduct transactions online.

Some nonprofit organizations are adopting the currency early, in hopes of attracting a different brand of donor.

One such agency is Capacity Waterloo Region in the high-tech hub of Waterloo, Ont., Canada, who recently began accepting Bitcoin donations online.

As detailed in this article in the Waterloo Region Record, the organization was hoping not only to open up a new donation stream but also to interest other nonprofits in accepting Bitcoin as well.

As the organization's director of operations Andrew Wilding said in the article, "We want to give as many options for people to donate to us as we can. We'll keep it going as long as they exist."

Hey, money is money, even if it's just byte-size computer code, and Bitcoin may be something worth looking into for nonprofits looking to widen their donor base.

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