Philanthropy Startups: Pitfalls and Progress

Newly minted millionaires and billionaires looking to start foundations need to be aware of the many challenges that they will face when setting up a non-profit organization or foundation. According to Giving USA, philanthropic giving from foundations increased by 6% in 2017, and corporate giving by 8%. New foundations often headed and founded by startup founders and entrepreneurs need to make sure that they don’t become mired in the process of setting up a foundation and focus instead on making sure that funds reach the organizations where they can do the most good.

Keeping It Simple – The Process of Philanthropy

Far too often, new foundations make things more complex than they should be. Complicated systems do little to ensure adequate stewardship and instead become increasingly chaotic and marred by the process instead of looking for ways to decrease the path to effective donations. Instead, newly founded organizations need to look for systems and processes that benefit the organization instead of doing things the way they have always been done. The role of a foundation board is to lead, not to manage the process. With a clear vision and succinct goals, a foundation’s board should be able to drive the vision of the foundation forward and not get stuck in managing the functions of the foundation.

Lean Operations: Use Your Resources

There is much criticism levelled at charitable organizations that utilize a large portion of donations towards the running of the non-profit. This, of course, is unacceptable, but so too is the idea that foundations can run with no investment in employees, training, technology and development. Trying to do good with no support to be able to expand and actually ‘do good’ is one of the reasons that new foundations flounder.

Keep Learning – Keep Growing

One of the biggest mistakes made by foundations, especially boards of directors, is the inability or capacity to continue learning about the areas in which they operate. Often, once the foundation vision is set, the board does little to enhance their knowledge within key areas. Continual learning is key to growing robust and effective non-profit organizations. The board of a foundation often wields a great amount of power over communities that it serves. This can make for a strained power dynamic at times. Foundation leaders need to ‘keep it real’, examine their own decisions and ensure that they are doing work that serves a greater good.

Learn from the Community

Along with institutional learning, a new foundation must take counsel from the communities and areas in which they work. This is especially important when dealing with at-risk communities and working in regions of the world that are not immediately culturally like one’s own. Something as simple as ongoing feedback from both the ‘boots on the ground’ employees and the end-recipient of a foundation’s donation.

Every new foundation or non-profit will go through a learning curve before they become successful and more importantly, relevant. With forethought and humility as well as a constant reminder of why foundations are crucial in the world these problems can be resolved.

6 Best Ways to Fundraise Online

It’s not always easy to get people gathered in one place to ask them to donate money. Organizing a gala or golf-day takes months of careful planning and quite a lot of sales savvy to be able to make it worthwhile. There is one way however, that you can reach a lot of donors, all at once, without them having to leave the house and that’s by taking your fundraising to the World Wide Web.

6 Sensational Online Fundraising Ideas

  1. Mobile Donations – Text-To-Give

Convenient, secure, and a great way to raise money, a ‘text-to-give’ campaign allows your donors to give to your nonprofit in seconds, and it is remarkably easy to organize and to set up. There are dozens of reputable ‘text-to-give’ software platforms and you can be set up, and receiving donations in just a few days.

  1. Online Auctions – SOLD!

An online auction is a novel way to reach all your donors without having to go to the expense of organizing a gala, or auction event. If you use one of the secure online auction platforms, you can run your auction by mobile or entirely online.

  1. Giving Kiosk – “I don’t carry cash”

A Giving Kiosk is always a fun way to raise money for a nonprofit at an event, but not everyone carries cash with them these days, and you’ll need to be able to accept credit and debit cards as well as online payments to make your fundraiser a success. With a fully integrated giving kiosk at your event, or even as a part of your website, you can accept donations from everyone. Giving Kiosk is one platform that will help you set up a stand at your function, EpicPay is another, but make sure you find one that is suited to your specific needs.

  1. Crowdfunding – Get Everyone Online!

There are hundreds of excellent crowdfunding sites where you will be able to set up a short web page which details what you are trying to raise money for, as well as your organization. People can donate to your cause and you can offer them ‘rewards’ for different levels of donation.

  1. Matching Gift – Get Businesses Giving

The best way to set up a matching gift campaign is online. First though, you’ll have to do some work in getting businesses involved and ensuring that they are committed to ‘matching’ the donations that you raise with an equal sum. Add some excitement to your fundraiser by putting a time limit on the event. All donations made during a single day will be matched by your business partner. You can also find several websites and platforms that offer this service and will help you set it up.

  1. Set Up a Shop

Use the power of the Internet to help raise money by selling items on an online shopping platform. They are easy to set-up, and even easier to maintain, and the collection of money is fully automated. Whether you’re selling branded t-shirts or other merchandise, you can easily raise additional funds for your nonprofit without having to send your volunteers out into the street, or having to set up stalls and stores in your community.

Be Smart about How You Approach Your Donors

Once your organization is ready to approach a donor, it is important to communicate your objectives clearly. It is vital that you tell your donors as comprehensively as possible what you can offer them that other foundations can’t. A letter requesting $1 million for a nebulous promise to alleviate poverty won’t cut it. Donors can afford to be picky about where they invest their money, and they’re looking to build long and meaningful partnerships that will have a real impact.

While donors realize that lofty ideas may not come to fruition, the passion with which these ideas are communicated may win their hearts. With fundraising for charity, it is the combination between one’s intent to help and serve society, the passion to make a difference and a knowledgeable approach that resonates with donors. This requires a laser focus on being as enthusiastic and professional as possible.

Organizations seeking funds for worthwhile causes must convince their donors that they bring partnership, value and unique resources to the table. This requires a careful mix of tactical smarts and strategic know-how.

How Should an Organization Communicate with a Potential Donor?

When a donor receives a request for funds, he/she will seek to verify the credibility of the organization that submitted the request. To this end, it is essential to provide easy access to third party information about the organization and publish the name of the charitable trust, its date of establishment, it’s credentials, and the names and positions of the management team members. This is the most effective way to build credibility with donors. Relay all this basic information in a paragraph. A quick history of your organization’s achievements will move mountains with donors, but too much information will put mountains in front of you. In addition, it is a well-known fact that charitable foundations prefer offering grants to registered charities. The reason for this is simple: registered charities are known to aid charitable causes.

Be Open and Provide Solid Information

You may find that your organization requires donor money to purchase IT equipment. However, you may want to communicate that in a way that extols the virtues of your organization and why that equipment is necessary for your charitable work. Your donors need to be aware of why you need funds for a certain venue, office space, equipment, vehicles, and the like. Sometimes, it is a good idea to provide evidence of how these ‘assets’ will assist your organization. These could either be qualitative or quantitative.

When it comes to your particular approach to resolving social, environmental, educational or other issues, explain your unique added value: how are you different? In other words, in what way can you make a difference to the issues that plague society? All of this should be communicated in a clear, credible, and concise manner.

Why Are You the Best Person for the Job?

It may not seem obvious at first, but every time you approach a donor you are selling yourself. You need to convince the donor that your charitable organization is the best one for the job at hand. Your approach, insights, passion, and determination to solve pressing problems must resonate at the highest level. Even if yours is a new charitable organization, you should detail the experience of your team members and their ability to get things done. Throughout it all, be sure to be as meticulous as possible when it comes to costs. Donors don’t like to throw money away; they want to know that their hard-earned dollars are being put to good use. Be prepared to show as much as needed to make your case.

Count Down to 2016 – People Give More on New Year’s Eve

There is an increase in donations to charities and foundations during November and December each year. From Thanksgiving onwards there is a steady increase of donations to foundations and charities. According to Network for Good, in 2014, up to 31% of ALL donations occurred in December with a whopping 12% on New Year’s Eve itself. What’s the reason behind the last minute giving and how can foundations prepare to leverage the last few days of 2015 to entice new donors to their cause.

A Foundation Guide to Giving in December

With the increase in quite literally, last minute online donations, you need to make sure that your foundation or organization is equipped to manage, process and interact with potential donors.
1. Make sure that your website offers an easy way for donors to make an online payment to your charity: Set up secure payment gateways from a number of different payment sources and don’t forget to include sources like PayPal to facilitate easy payment choices. Security should be your top concern; donors will be encouraged to increase their donation if you ensure their security.
2. Make it easy for them to contact you: Donors want to know that you’re accessible to answer questions, and available to walk them through their donation choices. While many sites have a standard contact form, consider setting up an online chat service over the next couple of weeks. This gives your potential donors the chance to engage with you.
3. Set up a specific year-end giving page on your website: Consider adding a page to your website that is easily reached by a link on your home page. Give an overview of your foundation’s activities in 2015 and a short description about your plans for 2016. This is especially important for repeat donors – having a review of what was accomplished in the previous year will help them make a decision about their donation in 2015.

Tax Deductions for Online Donations

Many people use the last few days of the year to make donations because of the ability to claim a donation as tax deductible in 2015, even if paid by credit card in January of 2016. For people making a last minute donation – make it as easy as possible for them to give.