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Nonprofit Fundraising: Opening Hearts, Minds, and Wallets

Fundraising will probably play a starring role in your business plan for the simple reason that it’s crucial to the health and well-being of most nonprofit organizations. In your plan, be sure to describe who will head your fundraising effort and how you will organize activities. Include your strategy for targeting and communicating with likely donors, who most often come from one or more of the following sources:

  • Individuals

  • Corporations

  • Private foundations

  • Community foundations

  • Government agencies

Individuals represent by far the largest contributor group. In fact, most nonprofit fundraising campaigns receive 70 to 80 percent of their money from individuals:

  • People who have given in the past are the most likely candidates to give again — so long as they have a sense that their money is being well spent.

  • People who somehow benefit from your programs are usually receptive contributors.

  • People who know firsthand of your good works are likely to support your work by writing checks. For example, a person who knows someone with Parkinson’s disease is more likely to support related medical research than someone who knows very little about the illness.

What’s the best way to reach individual donors? The answer depends on the nature of your organization and the kinds of contributors you plan to target. Door-to-door solicitations are great for local nonprofits or for large organizations with strong grassroots networks. If you can tell your story clearly and compellingly in print, a direct-mail campaign can be a cost-effective way to generate results.

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