Nonprofit Startup Guide Part II: Marketing a Nonprofit & Understanding Funding

Woman smiling looking at her laptop

Starting up a nonprofit organization is a huge task, which is why we’re so passionate about guiding you through it at BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions.

In part 1 of this series, we looked at forming a nonprofit, applying for tax-exempt status, and filing the required state documentation. Congratulations if you have completed those preliminary steps! That’s a lot of work. There is also some waiting time, as it can take the IRS up to six months to make a tax-exempt determination. Instead of merely waiting for the paperwork to arrive, now is a great time to begin marketing.

Focus on Marketing

It’s time to start focusing on getting your organization in front of the public, on focusing on why you started this journey. This requires marketing your nonprofit. 

Most people start a nonprofit because they’re passionate about their primary purpose. This drive  is crucial for the organization’s success. In order for potential donors and those needing your services to know about your organization, they have to know you exist in the first place. And this is where marketing is crucial.

Informing people that your organization exists and giving them a clear understanding of your cause is just as important for a nonprofit organization as it is for a for-profit business. That is why marketing is so vital. Unfortunately, many nonprofit organizations don’t focus enough time or energy on marketing. 

Marketing Tools

You don’t need a communications degree to market your nonprofit. You only need a few tools, time, and passion to get the word out.

There are many ways to market your nonprofit. Marketing is limited only by the organization’s imagination and time. Here are a few standard marketing options: 

  1.  Branding: Develop a logo and color scheme for the organization. 
  2. Website: Create a space for information and donations. 
  3. Social Media: Engage with potential donors, volunteers, and participants. 
  4. Press Release: Notify news outlets about your organization.
  5. Email Newsletter: Communicate about the organization’s activities.

Marketing Priorities

Desktop monitor and tablet displaying work on branding and color palette design for a new business

You don’t need to have a plan for every type of marketing right away. However, it’s a good idea to begin to develop a marketing plan while you wait for the proper legal authorization to solicit funds.

Make your primary branding your first priority. Then, as funds become available, develop a quality website. This way, when your organization can legally solicit funds, you will have a clear and unified marketing message ready to go. 

BryteBridge has a team of graphic designers and branding experts ready to aid your organization’s marketing goals. For more information about our options, visit us today.

How To Raise Money for Your Nonprofit

Starting a nonprofit organization, or any new organization, requires money. Large donations may not occur until your organization has trackable success stories and credibility. Until then, you will need to engage your Board of Directors, family, and friends to offer fundraising support.  

Raising money is one of the biggest challenges nonprofit organizations face. More than 50% of all organizations interviewed in our research study said they need outside help with fundraising. 

Once your organization’s Charity Registration is approved, any board member or Executive Director’s primary job is soliciting donations. Donations are the lifeblood of an organization and the difference between impacting one or two individuals and impacting an entire community. 

typewriter with the word donations

Types of Fundraising

There are multiple ways to raise funds. Diversifying your fundraising strategy produces the best results because there is no single guaranteed method for donations. 

fundraising plan pie chart

A well-diversified fundraising plan includes:

  1. Personal Donations (60-70% of revenue): Receiving individual donations from friends, family,  coworkers, and the general public.
  2. Service Fees (5-10% of revenue): Charging a fee to program participants.
  3. Corporate Sponsorship (10-15% of revenue): Encouraging local businesses to make monetary or in-kind donations.
  4. Foundation Grants (2-5% of revenue): Applying for grant funding. 

Think of these four items as not just options but also as the steps to start soliciting funds. The majority of fundraising always comes from individual donations, so focus on enticing people first and foremost.  

Next, consider charging service fees if your programming allows. These fees should be reasonable, and they should be less than fees charged in a for-profit setting. For example, if you provide groceries for those in need, charging the same price at the national chain supermarket down the street is probably not aiding your clients. Also consider what your nonprofit will do if someone in need of your services cannot afford the service fee.

Corporate sponsorships are a means of asking local businesses to support your organization. While they might not always provide financial contributions, they may provide in-kind donations of goods or services necessary to operate your organization.  

The final step in an organization’s fundraising journey is applying for foundational grants. With few exceptions, most foundations will not consider an application without detailed and successful fundraising from the previous three methods. Further, granting foundations often require multiple years of audited financial records. 

Responsibilities Associated With Fundraising

As soon as an organization begins accepting donations, it is responsible for properly tracking those donations.  Likewise, proper bookkeeping is necessary to maintain accurate records for annual tax reporting. Make sure you have a plan for bookkeeping and yearly financial audits in addition to your fundraising. 

All of these responsibilities can be difficult to navigate. BryteBridge has several options to help with designing and implementing a fundraising plan

After filling all of the legal paperwork for starting a nonprofit organization, the next step is telling people about your new charity and starting to raise the funds. Marketing your nonprofit tells the people that you will serve about your primary purpose and how you will help them. It also puts your nonprofit organization in front of potential donors, which will kickstart your fundraising efforts. BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions offers comprehensive services to help you formulate your marketing and fundraising plans and begin to implement them. Get in touch with our team to learn more and get started!

Next up, you’ll be able to read the third installment in this series. Part 3 in our nonprofit startup guide series focuses on developing your staffing and operating your nonprofit organization.