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Non-profits: know what you want before asking for money

For non-profit organizations and charities, fundraising is always top of mind. That means asking people and companies for money—sometimes lots of money. There’s no single way to go about this task but organizations will certainly make it easier on themselves by understanding themselves, building their profile and maintaining strong relationships with donors and potential donors. Alberta Culture has published a guide to help non-profits and charities do just that.

The Alberta government hopes “Building Corporate Relationships: A Toolkit for Nonprofits” (PDF) will assist organizations to:

  • Clearly define who they are and why they exist
  • Explain exactly what your project is and what it will achieve
  • Identify potential donors that best suit the organization’s request
  • Communicate for success
  • Strengthen donor relationships

Essentially, the guide encourages organizations to develop a thorough and clear plan of action to improve their fundraising efforts and achieve their goals. In large part, this involves looking at the donor relationship through the eyes of the potential donor.

Corporations invest a great deal of time in understanding your organization, and they expect you to do the same. Do your homework and find out what is in it for the donor.

This means understanding your purpose and the purpose of the project for which you’re raising funds, as well as the companies you expect to solicit for donations. For instance, organizations should ask find out:

  • Does the company have a Community Investment or Corporate Social Responsibility program?
  • If so, what are the company’s community investment priorities?
  • Do those priorities align with the objectives and goals of your organization’s project?
  • Has the company funded projects similar to yours in the past?

While “Building Corporate Relationships” is aimed at non-profits and charities in Alberta, it is applicable across the country. Organizations of all sizes will likely benefit from the advice within, and I’d love to hear what our readers think about the toolkit.

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Adam Gorley

Editor at First Reference
Adam Gorley, B.A. (Phil.), is a researcher, content provider and editor. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks and Internal Control blogs, HRinfodesk and other First Reference publications. His areas of focus include broad human resources issues, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and government policies, information technology and labour market trends.Read more
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