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Fundraising 101 for New Organizations

Fundraising is hard – especially for small organizations that are just getting started. We suggest thinking about how you can “diversify” your fundraising portfolio, so you aren’t relying on only one set of donors to fund your programs. Think of it as minimizing your risk by having a diverse set of revenue streams.

We suggest starting with individuals in your network. Think about who you can ask for small donations and who might be able to contribute more over the long term. Maybe you might consider getting a specific project funded and then through the results of that project, you can demonstrate that you are making a difference, which could be a jumping-off point for getting more donations.

Building out a board of directors is also really important not only for donations but for organizational governance. Board members are the “checks and balance” system within your organization, helping you to manage your administrative systems, receive funding, and ensure compliance with local laws. Think about including board members with varying and complementary skills.

Then, once you have a group of donors, a solid board of directors, and some project results, you can start pursuing grants. Institutional funders like to see stability and sustainability, so setting up a strong system of support at the outset (plus administrative systems!) before applying for grants will increase your likelihood of success.


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