It is no secret that fundraising is a major focus of every non-profit. However, people question this focus and often find themselves frustrated with the ongoing efforts of non-profit fundraising campaigns. Let's take a logical and informative journey through the fundraising efforts of non-profits. Why are donations such a huge focus? What are they used for? Who do I give to? How do I maximize my giving efforts?
To be blunt and honest, fundraising is a necessity for the functioning of any non-profit. Now, let's dive into why it is a necessity by giving two business models for non-profits. The first is a non-profit with only one purpose, giving money to a cause. It is no question that there are many great causes in need of funding out there and if you have a heart for the cause, setting up a non-profit is the perfect outlet for supporting it. Since their sole purpose is to give to cause, it is easy to see why a non-profit model such as this one has no purpose without the donations they receive. Without an effective fundraising campaign for this non-profit, it's purpose would never be fulfilled.
Our second model is a non-profit that also functions as a business. Some examples of this would be the organizations such as the YMCA, churches, and schools. These companies provide a service to the community in addition to monetary aid such as education, youth development, and important research. Though donations are not the only source of funding for them, they are a dire necessity for the function of their organization.
St. Barnabas Episcopal School is a great example of this 501(c)(3) non-profit business model. Fundraising is a necessity for private schools, such as ours, because it is our "lifeblood." For example: the $125,000+ in scholarships we offer would cease to exist without successful fundraising efforts. That means, more than 90 students would no longer receive a great private education due to our lack of funding. This is just one example and doesn't even begin to uncover the level of funding schools need if they wish to make new additions, renovations, compensate teachers/staff adequately, or keep technology on par with the constant innovations coming about. For schools like St. Barnabas, donations truly are a primary need for us to function every year.
Now, lets address the oh so foggy question of what your donations are used for. Before giving to any organization, I encourage you to research what your funds are actually supporting. Many non-profits use their funding for things outside of what they publish. However, with a little research, you can typically find a transparent answer to this question. According to a CNN report, "Some nonprofits are little more than fronts for fund-raising companies, which bankroll their startup costs, lock them into exclusive contracts at exorbitant rates and even drive the charities into debt." This is disheartening data to read about! Another discovery made after their research was "the top 50 worst non-profits in the nation devote less than 4% cash aid to their cause." This is exactly why researching a non-profit before giving is encouraged and necessary. Don't let your blessing go to waste.
For all the bad non-profits soliciting donations in the U.S. though, there are many great ones that need your help. At St. Barnabas Episcopal School, we are very open to showing you what your donations are going towards. You can easily find the five key areas of the school that are funded by your Annual Fund donations here. Likewise, most schools (and I say most because there are always exceptions) are very open in showing what donations are used for and often have tangible numbers they are willing to give you.
Let's see how you can maximize your giving this year to local causes. Many solid non-profits offer a variety of ways to give. Sometimes you can help a cause just by spending your shopping dollars in specific places. St. Barnabas, through the help of Amazon.com, can receive donations just by clicking here and utilizing Amazon.com's non-profit giving site.
Remember research your cause before giving and look for ways to maximize this giving to local causes. Donations are the lifeblood of any good non-profit and any way you can support it is a huge blessing. If you are interested in supporting St. Barnabas Episcopal School, visit our giving page or email Kyle Hays (firstname.lastname@example.org).