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Doing More than Raising Money

When you are a small, new nonprofit organization, there are things you need to do if you are going to grow and thrive.  You need to get your cause noticed by the community so you can build your support base and raise money.  The question is how do you do those things in a way that is affordable and efficient?

Some groups choose methods that are expensive and take great amounts of time, manpower and money like walks, runs, or rides.  Others choose gala events which also take a great deal of time to plan, money to buy supplies, food and entertainment, and a great amount of volunteers to set up, hold, and clean up when its done.  When these events are over, there is little show for all the work that took place.

Our communities have a great number of needs, but our city, county, state, and Federal governments do not have the money to take care of them.  Our streets are littered, our parks are neglected, our walls are covered with graffiti, and our natural areas filled with invasive species.  If we relied on our governments to take care of these problems, our taxes would skyrocket due to high personnel costs like wages and benefits.  These are not priorities of our governments when there are so many other issues like education and human services.

What if organizations used these community needs as a way to raise money for their programs?  Imagine what could actually be accomplished if organizations tackled some of these problems with the manpower they use when they hold their runs or galas.  Taking care of these problems does not involve special training or dangerous tools, just some manual labor. 

If nonprofits reached out to individuals and businesses to support their group’s efforts, I believe donors would be generous.  They would get a greater return on their investment.  The community would benefit, and the organization could put the money earned toward the needs of their programs and those they serve.  Because the donors would not get a tangible service or merchandise in return for their support, their gifts would be tax deductible, unlike buying a ticket to a dinner or an item bought at an auction.  For once, the media would have something positive to report, and the organization raising money this way would gain the notoriety it needs to tell more people about what it does.  An event like this can efficiently raise money, get donor information for future cultivation, create a positive awareness, and accomplish something that benefits the community.

Perhaps this is just a dream, but it is a dream worth sharing.  I want to do more than just raise money for a cause.  I want to accomplish something for the greater good.


Richard Freedlund, the author, has been involved with nonprofits for over a dozen years in several capacities. He currently serves on the Board of CNRG and is the owner/proprietor of Greater Good Fundraising, a business catering to the needs of small nonprofits and public schools. His opinions are his own and come from his experience, knowledge, and training in development. They do not represent the collective opinions of CNRG board members and volunteers. He welcomes responses to his blog at [email protected].